Sri Lanka's ruling party recorded a landslide victory at a key provincial government election at the weekend, the final regional poll before national elections next year, officials on Sunday.
President Mahinda Rajapakse's United People's Freedom Alliance won 38 seats in the 55-member Southern Provincial Council, which went to the polls on Saturday, the elections commission said.
The main opposition United National Party secured 14 seats while the Marxist People's Liberation Front won three seats.
Some 1.7 million people were eligible to vote in the election for the council, which has limited autonomy to manage civil administration issues in the province and has the power to raise taxes for development work.
An election commission spokesman said the UPFA got just over two thirds of the vote to comfortably win the council, the highest level of local government.
National parliamentary elections must be held within three months of the current legislature's six-year term ending in April.