Within hours of the contours of the new Parliament becoming known, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa described the outcome of the general election as a re-statement of people's faith in him and his policies.

The statement said: “This is the triumph of democracy. It is a clear re-statement of the confidence of the people placed in me, the Mahinda Chintana [his presidential election manifesto] and the UPFA at the Presidential election.”

However, the main opposition United National Party (UNP) has accused the government of misuse of government machinery and other irregularities.

Political and diplomatic observers believe that the President and the new Parliament now have an opportunity to move towards a political solution to the ethnic problem acceptable to all stakeholders in the island nation.

Mr. Rajapaksa, during the campaigning, had repeatedly sought a mandate for a “strong Parliament” to enable his government to go ahead with the necessary changes in the Constitution to evolve a political solution to redress the legitimate grievances of minorities in general and the Tamils in particular.

Since a two-thirds majority for the ruling combine is now ruled out, Mr. Rajapaksa would have to reach out to the opposition and the Tamil parties to muster the required numbers to push through constitutional amendments. But going by the pattern in the recently dissolved Parliament, it should not be a difficult task for him.

The UNP and the TNA have indicated that they would not have any reservations in joining hands with the government for changes in the Constitution if the political package was in the interest of the people and helped resolve the ethnic conflict.

A cursory look at the results of some of the districts suggests that the ruling combine has gained at the expense of the Janatha Vimukthi Perumana and other smaller parties. The main opposition party UNP has more or less managed to retain its vote base.

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