UPFA to emerge as single largest party
The United Peoples' Freedom Alliance (UPFA), led by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, was set to emerge as the single largest party in the Sri Lankan parliament as counting of votes in the parliamentary elections proceeded apace on Saturday.
By 5 pm, the UPFA had won eight of the nine districts for which the results were available. The United National Front (UNF) led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had won one district.
There are 22 districts in Sri Lanka.
In Gampaha district, out of the 17 seats, the UPFA got 9, the UNF 6, and the Buddhist monks' party, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) got 2.
In Kalutara district, out of the 10 seats, UPFA grabbed 6, the UNF 3 and the JHU, 1.
In Humbantota district, out of the seven seats, UPFA got 5, the got UNF, 2.
In Kegalle district, out of the 9 seats, UPFA got 5, and the UNF, 4.
In Monaragala district, out of the 5 seats, the UPFA got 3 and the UNF, 2.
In Matale, out of the 5 seats, the UPFA got 3 and the UNF, 2.
In Pollonnaruwa district, out of the 5 seats, the UPFA got 3 and the UNF, 2.
In Matara district, out of the 8 seats, UPFA got 5 and the UNF, 3.
In Badulla district, out of the 8 seats, the UNF got 5 and the UPFA, 3.
Results for 13 districts, out of which five are in the Tamil dominated
North East Province (NEP), had not come by 5 pm.
In the evening, projections by experts said that the UPFA would be the
single largest party with 107 seats in a house of 225. The UNF was placed second with 82 seats. The pro-LTTE Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), which was formerly the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), was to get 23; the Buddhist monks' party, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), 7; the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), 5; and the Eelam Peoples' Democratic Party (EPDP), one.
But to form a government, a party will have to have 113 seats at the minimum. Political observers, therefore, expect a lot of bargaining and horse trading in the days ahead. The newly elected 13th parliament is to assemble in the third week of this month.
According to tentative voting figures available for 53 electorates by
evening, the UPFA had got 48.2% of the total vote, and the UNF 30.46%.
The UPFA was ahead of the UNF in the districts of Ratnapura, Galle,
Anuradhapura. And the UNF was ahead in Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Colombo.
Complicated electoral system
The electorate-wise voting figures are only an indication of the popular mood. They do not indicate the number of seats a party will get in parliament, because that is decided on the basis of district-wise figures and a complicated system of proportional representation.
To complicate matters further, there are "bonus" seats and "national" level seats which are given to each party.
One will, therefore, have to wait for the full results to be out to know how many seats each party will get.
In the Tamil-dominated North Eastern Province (NEP), where the LTTE is making a bid to sweep the polls through its proxy the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (formerly Tamil National Alliance), the ITAK was leading massively. In the northern districts, the ITAK had scored more than 90%.
The anti-LTTE Eelam Peoples' Democratic Party (EPDP) led by Douglas Devananda was a very poor second and the Independent Group (1) V. Anandasangaree was an extremely poor third.
In the Eastern district of Batticaloa, the ITAK is dominated by the LTTE's breakaway group led by Col.Karuna. Here too the ITAK did well, polling over 70% of the votes. But unlike in the North, there will be no sweep here because the Eastern districts are ethnically diverse and there are Muslim and Sinhala (national) parties in the fray. Voting in the North East is largely on a communal basis.
In terms of the fight between the LTTE Supremo Prabhakaran and the renegade commander Karuna, the north will be with Prabhakaran and the Eastern district of Batticaloa is likely to be with Karuna.
While people from areas under the control of Karuna voted fairly heavily, those in the government controlled areas (presumably supporting Prabhakaran) voted poorly (30% to 40% only).
Overall, Prabhakaran will have the upper hand vis-a-vis KarunaKaruna because most of the ITAK MPs will come from the northern districts.