Sri Lankan local government elections, 1998

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Sri Lankan local government elections, 1998
Sri Lanka
1997 ←
29 January 1998
→ 2002

233 seats across 17 local authorities
Turnout 18.63%
  First party Second party
 
Leader Douglas Devananda Dharmalingam Sidarthan
Party Eelam People's Democratic Party Democratic People's Liberation Front
Popular vote 38,726 25,576
Percentage 42.28% 27.92%
Councillors 105 62
Local Authorities 9 3

Local government elections were held in Sri Lanka on 29 January 1998 for 17 local authorities on the Jaffna peninsula, in the north of the country. They were the first local elections held in the peninsula since 1983. Turnout was low due to the threats issued by the rebel Tamil Tigers. The Eelam People's Democratic Party gained control of nine local authorities, Democratic People's Liberation Front (PLOTE) three, Tamil United Liberation Front one and Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization one. There was no overall control in the three remaining local authorities.

Background[edit]

The Sri Lankan government suspended local government in the north and east of the country in 1983 using Emergency Regulations.[1] In March 1994, elections were held in the east and in Vavuniya in the north. However, elections weren't held in other areas of the north, including the Jaffna peninsula, because most of these areas were at that time controlled by the rebel Tamil Tigers.

In August 1995 the Sri Lankan Military launched an offensive to recapture the Jaffna peninsula. By December 1995 the military had captured most of the Valikamam region of the peninsula, including the city of Jaffna. By 16 May 1996 the military had recaptured the entire peninsula.[2] In late 1996 the government announced elections would be held for 23 local authorities in Jaffna District, Kilinochchi District, Mannar District and Vavuniya District but following opposition from Tamil political parties postponed them.[3] On 3 December 1997 the government announced that elections would be held for the 17 local authorities on the Jaffna peninsula.[4] The Tamil political parties were still opposed to holding elections as "normalcy" hadn't returned to the peninsula. The peninsula was under the firm grip of the Sri Lankan military and civil government had little, if any, role in the administration of the peninsula. The Tamil Tigers were also firmly against the elections being held. Despite these objections the elections were held on 29 January 1998.

Details[edit]

The Tamil Tigers ordered the electors not to participate in the elections and issued threats against election officials and potential candidates. As a result most moderate political parties did not participate in the elections. The two main national parties, People's Alliance and United National Party, didn't contest in any of the local authorities. The Tamil United Liberation Front, the largest moderate Tamil party, only contested in two of the 17 local authorities. This allowed the elections to be dominated by government backed paramilitary groups and rebel militant groups. The Democratic People's Liberation Front (PLOTE), Eelam People's Democratic Party, Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front and Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization contested in all 17 local authorities. A breakaway faction of the EPDP contested in two local authorities as an independent group.

Five of the nominations of the EPRLF and both nominations of the TULF were initially rejected due to technical errors but legal challenges overturned the rejections.

Results[edit]

Turnout was low (19%) due to the threats issued by the Tamil Tigers. 14% of the votes cast were also spoilt. The EPDP gained control of nine local authorities, DPLF (PLOTE) three, TULF one and TELO one. There was no overall control in the three remaining local authorities, including Jaffna Municipal Council.

Overall[edit]

Party Votes % Seats Local
Authorities
  Eelam People's Democratic Party 38,726 42.28% 105 9
  Democratic People's Liberation Front (PLOTE) 25,576 27.92% 62 3
  Tamil United Liberation Front 6,361 6.94% 20 1
  Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization 6,874 7.50% 18 1
  Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front 13,140 14.35% 25 0
  Independent (EPDP) 919 1.00% 3 0
No overall control 3
Valid Votes 91,596 100.00% 233 17
Rejected Votes 14,868
Total Polled 106,464
Registered Electors 571,486
Turnout 18.63%

By local authority[edit]

Local Authority
Type1
Admin
District

EPDP
Votes
EPDP
Seats
DPLF
(PLOTE)
Votes
DPLF
(PLOTE)
Seats
EPRLF
Votes
EPRLF
Seats
TELO
Votes
TELO
Seats
TULF
Votes
TULF
Seats
Ind
(EPDP)
Votes
Ind
(EPDP)
Seats
Total
Votes
Total
Seats
Reje-
cted
Votes
Total
Polled
Regis-
tered
Electors
Turnout
%
Chavakachcheri DC JAF 3,103 4 3,460 7 2,091 3 742 1 9,396 15 2,504 11,900 39,871 29.85%
Chavakachcheri UC JAF 680 2 1,146 6 835 3 99 0 2,760 11 527 3,287 14,802 22.21%
Delft DC JAF 1,484 8 293 1 13 0 10 0 1,800 9 125 1,925 4,209 45.74%
Jaffna MC JAF 2,963 6 3,182 6 943 2 3,540 9 10,628 23 907 11,535 82,667 13.95%
Kayts DC JAF 2,771 9 536 1 51 0 57 0 411 1 3,826 11 269 4,095 30,340 13.50%
Nallur DC JAF 2,064 7 921 2 847 2 417 1 4,249 12 554 4,803 32,814 14.64%
Pachchilaippallai DC KIL 377 2 731 5 362 2 114 0 1,584 9 385 1,969 7,463 26.38%
Point Pedro DC JAF 2,208 5 859 1 1,459 2 549 1 5,075 9 1,177 6,252 29,929 20.89%
Point Pedro UC JAF 656 2 1,301 6 122 0 157 1 2,236 9 374 2,610 12,721 20.52%
Vadamarachchi South West DC JAF 3,888 9 2,940 6 554 0 1,236 2 8,618 17 1,868 10,486 45,214 23.19%
Valikamam East DC JAF 3,978 9 2,975 5 2,909 5 752 2 10,614 21 1,711 12,325 54,386 22.66%
Valikamam North DC JAF 1,799 6 528 2 816 2 144 0 2,821 11 6,108 21 469 6,577 53,697 12.25%
Valikamam South DC JAF 3,542 8 2,659 5 1,121 2 496 1 7,818 16 939 8,757 41,444 21.13%
Valikamam South West DC JAF 4,069 10 1,281 3 578 1 815 2 6,743 16 1,213 7,956 41,856 19.01%
Valikamam West DC JAF 3,146 8 2,358 4 327 1 494 1 6,325 14 1,307 7,632 37,746 20.22%
Valvettithurai UC JAF 283 2 151 1 54 0 736 6 1,224 9 255 1,479 11,128 13.29%
Velanai DC JAF 1,715 8 255 1 58 0 56 0 508 2 2,592 11 284 2,876 31,199 9.22%
Total 38,726 105 25,576 62 13,140 25 6,874 18 6,361 20 919 3 91,596 233 14,868 106,464 571,486 18.63%

1. DC = Rural Council (Pradeshiya Sabha or Pradesha Sabhai), MC = Municipal Council, UC = Urban Council

Aftermath[edit]

The normal life term of Sri Lankan local government bodies is four years. The life term of the above 17 local authorities expired in February 2002 but the central government extended this by another year, as the law allows. Elections should have been held when the extension expired in February 2003 but in January 2003, following a request from the Tamil National Alliance, the central government instead dissolved the local authorities and instead put in place special commissions to administer the local areas.[5]

The Jaffna peninsula continued to be administered by these special commissions until elections were held on 8 August 2009 for Jaffna Municipal Council. Elections for the rest of the peninsula are due to take place on 17 March 2011.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "TNA urges PM to put off NE local polls". TamilNet. 11 September 2002. Retrieved 4 July 2009. 
  2. ^ Amit Baruha (14 June 1996). "The Army Takes Jaffna". Frontline. 
  3. ^ "Local Elections Postponed". Tamil Times XV (12): 5–6. 15 December 1996. ISSN 0266-4488. 
  4. ^ "Local Elections in Jaffna". Tamil Times XVI (12): 5–6. 15 December 1997. ISSN 0266-4488. 
  5. ^ "Jaffna local bodies to be administered by special commissioners". TamilNet. 14 January 2003. Retrieved 4 July 2009.