In Sri Lanka, local elections have rattled the government

Feb 15, 2018

TO CRITICS of Mahinda Rajapaksa, local-council elections that were held in Sri Lanka on February 10th felt like a horror film, as the controversial ex-president rose from his silk-lined political coffin to declare victory. And what a victory it was for Mr Rajapaksa, a brash populist whose exit in 2015 after ten bloodstained and corruption-tainted years in power was widely heralded as a bright new dawn for the civil-war-battered island republic. His party won no fewer than 239 out of 340 contests. Some commentators have described it as the biggest electoral upset in Sri Lankan history. Mr Rajapaksa swiftly declared that the current national government had lost its legitimacy and should resign.

That is unlikely. The coalition headed by the prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, may be ineffectual and unpopular, but it still holds a solid majority in parliament. Elections for the legislature are not due before 2020. Even if Mr Wickremesinghe’s conservative United National Party (UNP)...

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