On 12 February 2018, former president Mahinda Rajakapaksa called for early parliamentary elections after his opposition party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), swept local elections conducted on 10 February.
The SLPP, formed in 2016 after Rajapaksa effectively split from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), won 225 of 340 local council seats across the country. Sri Lanka’s main ruling parties – the United National Party (UNP) and the SLFP – contested the elections separately and won 41 and 11 seats, respectively. Traditionally fierce political and ideological rivals, the parties’ current cohabitation is rooted in the increasingly fragile alliance between SLFP leader President Maithripala Sirisena and UNP leader Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
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