Pages - 1 / 2

The representative form of Government commenced in Sri Lanka more than a century ago. In 1931, with the introduction of universal franchise a new political enthusiasm was generated. In the absence of a specific institution to conduct elections at that stage, the responsibility was assigned to an existing institution on an ad hoc basis. Accordingly, a regular institution for the conduct of elections was not established until 1947.

At about this time a Commissioner and a Deputy were appointed to conduct Local Elections. The Government Agents were appointed to conduct the elections at the District Level. On this basis the FIRST Parliamentary General Election of 1947 was conducted by Mr. E.R. Sudbury.

Mr. P.O. Fernando and Mr. S.Amarasinghe were appointed as Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner (Local Elections) on October 1st, 1947. With the appointment of two clerks to assist them, a nucleus of a separate Department could be identified.

The very next year Seven Assistant Elections Officers and 14 additional officers were appointed. By this time an institutional framework had developed at the District-Level under the direction of Mr. V.L. Weerasinghe, as the Commissioner
On October 1st, 1955 the two departments in charge of Parliamentary and Local Elections were amalgamated to form a single department
Mr. A.Arulpragasam was appointed as the First Commissioner of the combined office. He succeeded Mr. G.P.Thambyah the Commissioner of Local Elections.
Then Third Parliamentary General Election of 1956 was conducted by Mr.A.Arulpragasam. On the retirement of Mr. Arulpragasam, the then Deputy Commissioner of Local Government Mr. E.F.Dias Abeyesinghe was appointed on March 07th,1957 as the Commissioner of Elections. During the tenure of Mr. Dias Abeysinghe the principle of a One day Parliamentary General Election was introduced with the 1960 March Election, followed by the July 1960 Elections. The system of formal recognition of political parties, the issue of Poll Cards, and Postal Voting for essential services were introduced at the time. Mr. Dias Abeyesinghe conducted the five Parliamentary General Elections in 1960 (March and June), 1965, 1970, and 1977.

On his retirement in 1978, the then Deputy Commissioner, Mr. M.A. Piyasekera succeeded him on May 16th, 1978. The 1978 Constitution was introduced at this time, consequent to which several new election laws were adopted. A new system of Local Authorities called Development Councils was introduced. The Elections to these new Development Councils were held in 1981

When Mr. Piyasekera went on leave prior to retirement on February 1st, 1982, (retired on 17.02.1982) Mr. L.A.G.Jayasekera was appointed as the, acting Commissioner of Elections on 10.02.1982. In succession to Mr. M.A.Piyasekera Mr. S.M.L. Marikkar was appointed Commissioner of Elections on 25.03.1982 and due to his going on leave Mr. L.A.G. Jayasekera was appointed as acting Commissioner w.e.f. 26.03.1982. Subsequently on May 4th 1982 with the resignation of Mr. M.A. Piyasekera, Mr. R.K.Chandrananda de Silva assumed duties on 04.05.1982 as Commissioner of Elections. During this period new system Elections as adopted in 1978 Constitution came into operation. The Presidential Election and the Referendum came with this system. The Parliamentary General Elections Act was amended to include the system of Proportional Representation, and later in 1988 the marking of Preferences was introduced. These changes have made the electoral system more complicated.
© Department of Elections. All Rights Reserved 2008. Site by SLTnet.