Written by Staff Writer
03 Sep, 2017 | 6:50 pm
Today marked the 66th anniversary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), a party which has given the country three executive presidents and four prime ministers.
The party celebrated the event in Campbell Park, Colombo with a convention attended by Head of State and Party Leader of the SLFP, Maithripala Sirisena.
The SLFP is no stranger to Sri Lankan politics. It is one of the oldest and most prominent parties in the country. All Sri Lankans left, right and centre know about the SLFP. But this article is for those who are not familiar with the party’s rich history and its decorated political journey of 66 years.
Established on September 2, 1951, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party was led under the leadership of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, uniting the forces of Sangha, Veda, Guru, Govi, Kamkaru.
Within a year, the SLFP grew to become the main opposition party under the leadership of Bandaranaike.
First time in office, a shock loss and the world’s first woman PM
In 1956, the SLFP led a coalition of smaller parties, and came into government as the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, with S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike taking the seat of Prime Minister.
In a shocking turn of events, the unexpected assassination of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike posed a serious challenge to the future of SLFP.
However, his widow Sirimavo Bandaranaike came forward to take up the mantle and steer the party through the difficult times.
The SLFP under Sirimavo Bandaranaike went on to give the world its first woman Prime Minister.
Winning two elections in 1960 and in 1965 and 1970 and becoming the main opposition party in 1977, the SLFP embarked on a journey closely entwined with the people.
From mother to daughter
Facing many challenges in the post 1977 era, the party found itself a new leader, again from the Bandaranaike family in the form of Chandrika Kumaratunge Bandaranaike.
The daughter of S.W.R.D. and Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Chandrika Kumaratunge Bandaranaike led the SLFP to a comprehensive victory in the Presidential Election of 1994, laying the foundation for important changes in Sri Lankan politics.
Come 2005, it was Mahinda Rajapaksa who led the SLFP alliance to victory at the presidential election and dawned an era which saw the end of the 30 year scourge of terrorism.
January 8, 2015 – the victorious common candidate, President Maithripala Sirisena took over the reigns of the SLFP, ushering in a new era for the party and the country.
Like a script out of a Hollywood movie scene, the current leader of the SLFP President
Maithripala Sirisena was born just a day after the founding of the SLFP.
A staunch SLFPer from his younger years, President Sirisena holds the distinction of having served as general secretary of the party for thirteen years before taking on leadership.
Elected on a promise to Sri Lanka and to the world to bring forth good governance, President Sirisena is now facing the challenging task of taking both the SLFP and Sri Lanka into the future on a foundation of good governance, a social market economy and a strong welfare state.
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