Sri Lanka: United Socialist Party (CWI) wins council seat

In the council and provincial elections which took place on Thursday, 30 March, the United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka) won one seat and massively improved its vote in many other areas.

Hundreds of councils were contested and the USP stood in just 14. (In two of them, including Colombo Central, the voting is postponed until May.)

Nationally, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), which is at present running the government, is winning in a big way. Its one-time ally, the People’s Liberation Front (the Sinhala chauvinist JVP) has been running separately. It hoped to in control fifty councils but seems to have managed only one – the one it had control of before the elections! There is some speculation that the Sri Lankan president, Rajapakse, may call a snap general election, to consolidate his position.

In Eheliyagoda (Ratnapura) the United Socialist Party (CWI) got 710 votes (2.37%), winning one of the 16 seats up for grabs. The UPFA got 10 seats, the main opposition party nationally (the United National Party) got 4, and the JVP got one. The first preference votes will determine which of the names on the party list will be the actual councillor. But this result marks a real break-through for the United Socialist Party (USP). It is the first elected position the party has won, as yet, and shows it is building a reputation as the voice of the working and poor people. In other areas, the USP managed to double its score from the last election, and in some areas got over four times as much!

It is clear that, in spite of having next to no resources, the United Socialist Party is building its support on the basis of a clear socialist, alternative programme. This has been especially the case since coming third in the presidential election, at the end of last year, and being shown to be the main left force in the country.

Siritunga Jayasuriya, the United Socialist Party’s Secretary, and its previous presidential candidate, was interviewed by the media, including the Sinhala BBC service, over the results. He will write a full report and analysis of the results for, at the beginning of next week.

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March 2006