Jan. 16, 2015, 3:43 p.m.
The 9-year rule of President Mahinda RAJAPAKSA astonishingly came to an end with an election held on January 8th, 2015. Maithripala SIRISENA, Secretary General of the opposition group New Democratic Front (NDF) defeated the leader of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in an early election, with a turnout of over 70 percent in most polling places. SIRISENA earned 51.28 percent of the vote, defeating RAJAPAKSA who garnered 47.58 percent. RAJAPAKSA officially conceded defeat on January 9th, and SIRISINA was sworn in the same day.
The results of this election suggest a political turning point in Sri Lanka. Coming to power in 2009 through a military campaign ending the 26-year Civil War, President RAJAPAKSA consolidated his rule through largely authoritarian measures like ending presidential term limits, prolonging his time in office. SIRISINA’s rise to power is seen as a sign of democracy in Sri Lanka, which the new president hopes to further through constitutional reforms.