He was the general-secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and was Minister of Health until November 2014 when he announced his candidacy for the 2015 presidential election as the opposition coalition's "common candidate".
His victory in the election is generally viewed as a surprise, coming to office through the votes won from the alternative Sinhala-majority rural constituency and the Tamil and Muslim minority groups that have been alienated by the Rajapaksa government on post-war reconciliation and growing sectarian violence.
Maithripala Sirisena pledged to implement a 100-day reform program where he promised to rebalance the executive branch within 100 days of being elected, by reinforcing Sri Lanka’s judiciary and parliament, to fight corruption and to investigate allegations of war crimes from 2009, repeal the controversial eighteenth amendment, re-instate the seventeenth amendment and appoint UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister.
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Although born in the Western Province, Sirisena hails from the North Central Province of the country and is the first president from that province.
He is an agriculturist and does not belong to the Sri Lankan political elite.