Parliamentary Chamber: Parliament


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Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  15 February 1989

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in Parliament in the first general elections since July 1977.

Background and outcome of elections:

  Following the general elections of July 1977 for the then National State Assembly, a new Constitution providing for an enlarged national legislature known as Parliament was adopted the next year. In 1982, the legislative term was extended until 1989.

Parliament was dissolved on 20 December 1988. Nearly 1,400 candidates from nine recognized political parties and 10 independents groups contested the parliamentary seats. The five-week campaign focused on economic issues and was marred by ongoing ethnic violence between Tamils and Sinhalese that claimed numerous lives, including those of 14 candidates. Largely as a result of intimidation tactics by militant and extremist groups, on 64% of the electorate turned out on polling day. The ruling United National Party (UNP) of President of the Republic Ranasinghe Premadasa retained power, taking a total of 125 seats but falling short of a comfortable two-thirds majority. It was followed by the main opposition Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), led by former Prime Minister Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

President Premadasa – elected by a narrow margin on 19 December 1988 – appointed his Cabinet on 18 February and named the Hon. Gingiri Banda Wijetunge Prime Minister on 3 March. The opening of Parliament, which took place on 9 March, was boycotted by a number of Tamil MPs.

Round no 1 (15 February 1989): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 9,374,880
Voters 5,961,815 (63.6%)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 365,497
Valid votes 5,596,318

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Candidates Votes %
United National Party (UNP) 262 2,837,961 50.7
Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) 248 1,780,599 31.8
Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) 46 188,593 3.4
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) 148 202,014 3.6
Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) 140 95,793 1.7
United Socialist Alliance (USA) 224 160,271 2.9
Independent Group 14 150,340 2.7
Others 308 180,747 2.5

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total National Lists Districts
United National Party (UNP) 125 15 110
Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) 67 9 58
Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) 10 1 9
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) 4 1 3
Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) 3 1 2
United Socialist Alliance (USA) 3 1 2
Independent Group 13 1 12
Others 0 0 0

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 214
Women: 11

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Copyright 1989 Inter-Parliamentary Union