If Sri Lanka’s civil war contributed to democratic recession, the defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam emboldened President Mahinda Rajapaksa to become increasingly authoritarian. In the January 2015 presidential election, however, a multiethnic and ideologically diverse coalition led by Maithripala Sirisena defeated the miscalculating Rajapaksa. Seven months later a similar coalition thwarted Rajapaksa’s attempts to make a comeback as prime minister through parliamentary elections. The ensuing national-unity government’s attempts to revive independent institutions, effectuate transitional justice, and rebalance Sri Lanka’s foreign relations will partly determine the degree to which the island regains its once commendable democratic credentials.
A Win for Democracy in Sri Lanka
Issue Date January 2016
Page Numbers 152-166