- EC flags off Gen. Elections; fixes 5 August, a weekday, for poll
- New date for 2020 polls follows after two previous announcements
- Postal voting on 13, 14, 15 July
- 16,263,885 eligible to vote in election
- Over 7,400 candidates vying for seat in 225-member Parliament
By Chandani Kirinde
The Election Commission (EC) yesterday announced 5 August as the new date for the Parliamentary Election.
EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya, flanked by the two other Commissioners Nalin Abeysekera and Prof. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, announced the new poll date and said it was agreed upon unanimously.
The Gazette notification with the new poll date was also issued last afternoon amending the notification issued on 20 April. This is the third date announced for the 2020 General Election, the first being 25 April and the second 20 June.
The EC also picked a weekday for the poll, as against a convenient Saturday as the case was with 2019 presidential election.
Postal voting will take place on 13, 14 and 15 July, EC officials said.
The decision to hold the election in August was announced after health authorities gave the go-ahead for the poll with strict adherence to health regulations by candidates, their supporters and election officials.
The new poll date was announced a day after the Election Commissioner issued a 524-page Gazette notification with the names of candidates, political parties and independent groups contesting the upcoming General Election as well as allocated symbols and preferential numbers.
A total of 16,263,885 are eligible to vote at this year’s Parliamentary Election, about 270,000 more than those who were registered to vote at last November’s Presidential Poll. The 2019 electoral list will be used for the election while for November’s Presidential poll, the 2018 list was used.
A total of 7,452 candidates are vying for a seat in the 225-member Parliament, with 3,652 contesting from political parties and another 3,800 from independent groups. In 2015, a total of 6,151 candidates contested.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved Parliament on 2 March after the last Parliament completed four-and-a-half years of its five-year term under powers vested in him under by Article 70 of the Constitution and under the provisions of the Parliamentary Elections Act No.1 of 1981.
The President is empowered to dissolve Parliament only after the completion of four-and-a-half years after the enactment of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
Nominations for the poll were received between 12-19 March.
This year’s election will be held on a Wednesday and will be in the same month as the 2015 General Election. The 2015 General Election was held on 17 August in which the United National Party (UNP) won 106 seats in the 225 Legislature while the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) won 95 seats.
The Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) won 16 seats, the People’s Liberation Front (JVP) won six seats while the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) won one seat each.
The 2015 General Election was the first to be held after the enactment of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which saw the term of Parliament reduced from six years to five years.
A total of 196 MPs will be directly elected from the 25 districts to Parliament while 29 will be appointed from the National List.