Elite politics and dissent in Sri Lanka
2015 has been a dramatic year in politics in Sri Lanka. A Presidential as well as General Election within the first 8 months of the year and the country saw a new President as well as a new government come into power. The new political order was brought into power on a wave of mobilisation from a range of civil society groups and actors reminiscent of the political transformation that took place in 1994. Then too, a government that had been in power for 17 years, who had overseen the violent suppression of an insurrection in the South was defeated by a relative new comer into politics. This paper attempts to examine the changes that have taken place in 2015 in relation to certain established facts about Sri Lanka’s political system, particularly the dominance and endurance of the elite. It argues that the focus on elite politics as well as the violence resistance against the state by groups such as the LTTE and the JVP has resulted in the lack of attention paid to the endurance of certain democratic impulses in Sri Lankan society. This is examined in relation to the dissent and resistance displayed by smaller groups that played a crucial role in the political transformations both in 1994 as well as in 2015.
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