The United National Party ( Sinhala: එක්සත් ජාතික පක්ෂය , romanized: Eksath Jāthika Pakshaya, Tamil: ஐக்கிய தேசியக் கட்சி ), often abbreviated as UNP , is a political party in Sri Lanka, currently headed by the Former Prime Minister Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe. The UNP is considered as a center-right party, to the right-wing of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, opting for a Neo-liberal market-oriented economy. Furthermore, it is a member of the International Democrat Union as well. It had been the governing party from 1947 to 1956, from 1965 to 1970, from 1977 to 1994, 2001 to 2004, and 2015 to 2019. In addition, the UNP also had control of the executive presidency on the side of the presidencyâ€™s formation in 1978 to 1994.
It was founded by Don Stephen Senanayake, who later became the first Prime Minister of Ceylon (The country gained independence from the United Kingdom during this term of office), in 1946 by the amalgamation of Ceylon National Congress and the Sinhala Maha Sabha, and the adhesion of other political elements willing to support its policy. The approval of the Soulbury Constitution, which issued its report in 1945, enabled the party to be formed. Thus, this new party was established with an immense island-wide appeal. The first meeting to form the UNP took place on 4th June, 1946 at the House of Representatives, where the draft constitution of the party was compiled.
The party predominantly represented the business community, landed gentry and included people from all ethnolinguistic groups. Its members were bound by the common principles of Ceylonese nationalism, parliamentary democracy, and continuous economic progress through free enterprise. However, D.S Senanayake embraced certain populist policies as well, which enhanced the party to be trusted on a grassroot level. As a result of such policies, many people without lands were relocated to fertile dry zones and new agricultural colonies were built which resulted in Sri Lanka agricultural production. In late 1947, when the party won the country's first general election, the UNP attempted to establish an anti communist, intercommunal parliamentary form of government.
The strength of the United National party rejuvenated the national political movement and sought to build a stronger, safer, and better Sri Lanka. Today, the party has certainly flourished and lived up to its strong grassroots, while upholding the proud traditions of the UNP; the core principles of the movement have not changed. The United National Party constantly strived to stand up for sovereignty, strong national defense, national unity, free enterprise, and individual achievement, empowering all citizens, regardless of background, to achieve their dreams in a safe, healthy, and prosperous country.