The general election held on July 21, 1977 is a watershed in the annals of parliamentary democracy in the country. It was the last election to be held under the Westminster System before the introduction of the Proportional Representation (PR) system by the 1978 Constitution.
The United National Party (UNP) secured 140 seats out of the 168 seats up for grabs in the Second National State Assembly (NSA) in the 1977 election. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which had held office from 1970-77 in coalition with several other parties was reduced to eight (8) seats while its constituent partners, namely the Communist Party of Sri Lanka, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and the Mahajan Eksath Peramuna were wiped off the electoral map.
The Tamil United National Front(TULF) won 18 seats thus securing for its leader A.Amirthalingam the post of Leader of the Opposition . The Ceylon Worker Congress (CWC) won one seat while another was won by an independent candidate.
Th composition of the Second NSA was based on the report of the Delimitation Commission handed over to the President of the Republic on 25 May 1976. By it, the nine provinces in the Island were dived into 160 electorates with 168 law makers to be returned to the Legislature. Of these two electorates were to return three members each (Colombo Central & Nuwara Eliya) while four electorates were to return two members each (Beruwela, Harispattuwa,Batticaloa and Potuvil.
The Daily Post brings to our readers how the the Sunday Observer on 24 July,1977 reported the history making election and the formation of a new Government with J. R.Jayewardene as Prime Minister.
On February 4, 1978, having changed the country’s Constitution , JRJ was sworn in as the country’s first executive President. The rest,as they say, is history.