Sri Lanka’s 2020 parliamentary elections were held on 5 August after having been postponed twice due to the coronavirus (covid-19). The pandemic, curfews imposed around the island, and the health and safety guidelines led to the elections being rescheduled twice by the Election Commission until the commission and health authorities deemed the conditions safe to hold in-person polls amidst the pandemic. Sri Lanka's general election was the first election in South Asia to be held in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
With evolving social media networks creating a new online space for democratic discourse, the postponement of the parliamentary elections due to Covid-19 was heavily discussed online; particularly on Facebook, which is the most widely used social network in Sri Lanka.
In our latest report, DRI’s research aims at understanding how Sri Lanka’s parliamentary elections were discussed in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic five months before and two weeks following the election. In order to examine this, the report, therefore, analyses Facebook page and group posts discussing the elections between the period of March and August 2020.
DRI’s findings confirm that active discussion of the dissolution of parliament and the holding of parliamentary elections amidst a pandemic took place in Facebook pages and groups during Sri Lanka’s 2020 parliamentary elections. The findings indicate that steps need to be taken to create a conducive environment for election campaigning, discussions on democracy, and the treatment of protected characteristics on online platforms.
Read the full report below.
Photo credit: Parliament of Sri Lanka