Northern Provincial Election 2013: Mainstream print media front-page coverage

Executive Summary

The Northern Provincial Council (NPC) election in Sri Lanka was held on the 21 September 2013 for the first time in twenty-five years. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) won a total of 30 seats including 2 bonus seats in the 38 member council. The voter turnout was as high as 67.5%, which was quite unexpected due to what was believe to be a widespread disillusionment with the election process and serious intimidation of voters leading up to and on election day.

The frontpages of mainstream print media were monitored on 22 and 23 September to study the coverage given to this election and the results. Unsurprisingly, even amongst non-State / privately owned media, the Sinhala newspapers carried relatively fewer articles, lead news stories and editorials in comparison to Tamil and English newspapers, which featured a lot more coverage around the eelction and its significance for the Tamil people in the North.

Of particular significance in State-owned newspapers is the lack of coverage even in the Tamil Newspapers to the election result and its significance. Thinakaran, the only State owned Tamil newspaper, did not publish any lead news around the results on the 22 September, the day after the election. The State-owned English newspaper, Daily News and Sinhala Newspaper, Dinamina published lead news on the 22 September. Even the few articles published in Thinakaran on 22 and 23 September were clearly biased towards and promoting the government’s perspectives and opinions.

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Centre for Policy Alternatives

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) was formed in 1996 in the firm belief that there is an urgent need to strengthen institution- and capacity-building for good governance and conflict transformation in Sri Lanka and that non-partisan civil society groups have an important and constructive contribution to make to this process. Focusing primarily on issues of governance and conflict resolution, CPA is committed to programmes of research and advocacy through which public policy is critiqued, alternatives identified and disseminated.