ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s leftist National People’s Power (NPP) may have to reach out to individual MPs of other parties in the event the NPP is victorious in a parliamentary election but is unable to secure 113 seats, party leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said.
Speaking to a group of Sri Lankan expats living in the United States, Dissanayake said if the election result indicates that the voters have attempted to form an NPP government as opposed to relegating it to its traditional role of “watcher” or security guard of parliament, the party would be obligated to honour that verdict.
“If the voters have attempted to give us power and not to relegate us to the role of a watcher but we were somehow unable to get 113 seats, we think we may have to go into an agreement, not with the other parties, but with some elected MPs,” said Dissanayake.
“If the people’s wish is to form a government, we have no right to disregard that. They have tried to give us a government but were unable to give us 113. To fulfill that we have to come up with a strategy,” he said.
The NPP leader, who also leads the Marxist-Leninist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the party that effectively controls the NPP “collective”, said, however, that there is little chance of an election before the presidential election that’s due in October 2024.
According to Dissanayake, it is not in President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s interest to call a parliamentary election before the presidential election as doing so would negatively impact the latter’s chances at a presidential poll. Even a local government election would reflect voter sentiment that would prove a challenge, he said.
The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) on the other hand, said Dissanayake, is in a predicament. An early parliamentary poll would prove disastrous to the Rajapaksa-led party, so they would have to throw their weight behind President Wickremesinghe at the presidential poll, which would also spell a shift of power to Wickremesinghe’s associates and confidantes in his United National Party (UNP).
The only way for an early parliamentary poll would be for the president to dissolve parliament, which he is unlikely to do, with the upcoming budget also unlikely to be defeated, the JVP leader said.
Dissanayake currently leads at least one opinion poll on presidential election voting intent.