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COMPARISON OF TAMIL POLITICAL MOVEMENTS

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which turned to the SLFP without enthusiasm and out of exasperation with the UNP” (Ibid., 32). The new Prime Minister refused to institutionalize a party organization through which to standardize the distribution of patronage, arguing that this would limit his “freedom to manoeuvre” (Ibid., 33). Following his assassination, his wife Srimavo Bandaranaike led the party to a second electoral victory in 1960, and also refused to standardize and rationalize the party organization, claiming that this would mean extending power “to a lot of people we don’t know” (Ibid., 34). Manor suggests that although the UNP’s 1977 electoral victory was the result of a fairly broad and robust party organization, the party organization has since deteriorated as many of its key organizers entered government. Since then the “party’s effectiveness as an instrument for recruitment and participation has clearly declined” (Ibid., 36). According to Manor, the weakness of party organizations has undermined Sinhalese leaders’ efforts to agree on a political settlement with Tamil politicians. Without a robust and reliable support base, Sri Lankan leaders are particularly sensitive to dissension from the opposition and from within their own parties. Attempts by leaders of both the UNP and the SLFP while in government to reach an agreement with S. J. V. Chelvanayagam, the leader of the largest Tamil party, the Federal Party, were abandoned in the face of mounting opposition from their own backbenchers and the opposition party. Manor contends that without strong and stable links with party supporters as well as robust intra-party discipline with which to contain dissent, the party leaders were unable to contain opposition from within their own parties, from the opposition, and from extra-parliamentary groups. Party leaders’ weakness has meant that small “ad hoc interest groups – usually springing up on single, narrow issues – have often frightened governments into abrupt changes of course” (Ibid., 37). The above discussion suggests that political parties can play an important role in accommodating the interests of different ethnic groups. Key to this is the extent to which open competitive methods are used to choose candidates and distribute party positions. In Katherine Adeney and Andrew Wyatt’s terms, a party with intra-party democracy is more likely to have inclusive social links and be able to integrate different ethnic groups. James Manor’s analysis suggests that leaders of parties with stable institutional structures through which to distribute the loaves and fishes of government are also more likely to be secure about their positions and the support of their constituencies. Such leaders will therefore be able to enter into negotiations on behalf of their ethnic constituencies. It will therefore be important to examine the relationship between the positions adopted by Indian, Sri Lankan and Tamil

Sagar XVII — 2007  
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