Emerging Digital Democracy?
Social Media and Sri Lanka's Recent Presidential Election
Talk by Nalaka Gunawardene
Science writer, columnist and new media watcher
At the University of London, 12 Feb 2015
Organised and hosted by:
The Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London & Commonwealth Journalists’ Association (CJA)
A record 81.5% of registered voters took part in Sri Lanka’s presidential election on 8 January 2015 in which incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated by his former health minister Maithripala Sirisena. The peaceful regime change has been widely acclaimed as a triumph of democracy and a mandate for political reform, improved governance and national reconciliation.
The election saw unprecedented use of social media by both candidates as well as by politically charged yet unaffiliated youth. How much of this citizen awakening can be attributed to the fast spread of smartphones and broadband? Did it really influence how people voted? What does this mean for future politics and governance in Sri Lanka?
Trained as a science writer and working for over 25 years as a science journalist, Nalaka Gunawardene is a multimedia journalist with many outlets for his work – national and regional newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and the web (where he is active as a blogger and on Twitter: @NalakaG). He is also published in trade, academic and technical publications.