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By Prema-chandra Athukorala, S. K. Jayasuriya

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Additional info for Macroeconomic Policies, Crises, and Growth in Sri Lanka, 1969-90 (World Bank Comparative Macroeconomic Studies)

Sample text

While the SLFP was willing to impose state controls and regulations, it was not, despite its occasional populist posturing, a party committed to overthrowing the existing order. The coalition with the LSSP and the CP was the product of special circumstances (Wilson 1979). Under Mrs. Bandaranaike the SLFP retained its dominance within the coalition when fundamental issues were at stake, even though some of the long-held views of the leftist parties influenced the course of economic policy in this period.

One of the results of this incorporation of the traditional left into the mainstream was the disappearance of a radical leftist opposition. The coalition government formed in 1964 was short-lived, however, losing a vote of confidence in parliament in November 1964 when some conservative members of the SLFP who opposed the link with the left joined the opposition. Partial Liberalization: 1965-70 The ensuing election in 1965 did not give any party a majority in the parliament. 3 percent of the votes, obtained sixty seats but lacked an absolute majority over the SLFP-led coalition, which obtained fifty-five seats.

But the peacefulness and order of the political and social scene in 1948 were deceptive. They masked deep underlying divisions among social classes and ethnic groups. Politically, society was polarized between the conservative nationalist right and the marxist-oriented left to a degree almost unknown elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent, and there was much industrial strife that erupted into general strikes in 1946 and again in 1947. Ethnic antagonisms were also present, particularly between the Sinhalese nationalists who dreamt of a Sinhalese Sri Lanka and the minority Tamils, who feared that British rule would be replaced by Sinhalese rule.

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