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Sri Lanka: Political Parties Material

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0101 PP.CE
Held at: Institute of Commonwealth Studies
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Full title: Sri Lanka: Political Parties Material
Date(s): 1944-
Level of description: Collection (Fonds)
Extent: 2 boxes
Name of creator(s): Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The political history of the country that achieved independence in 1948 as the Dominion of Ceylon, became the Republic of Sri Lanka in 1972 and then the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in 1978 has to a certain degree been that of the oscillation of power between two parties. The Ekshat Jathika Pakshaya (United National Party, UNP) ruled the country in 1948-1956, 1959-1960, 1965-1970, 1977-1994 and from 2001-2004, while its rival, the Sri Lanka Nidahas Pakshaya (Sri Lanka Freedom Party SLFP), has been in government for the remainder of the period. Traditionally, the SLFP has been the more left-wing of the two, as indicated by the United Front it formed in 1970 with the Communist Party of Sri Lanka and the trotskyite Lanka Sama Samaja Party, but its strong pro-Sinhalese rhetoric and legislation (most particularly the 1972 constitution favouring Buddhism and relegating the Tamil language to a secondary status) served to antagonise the country's large Tamil minority as well as driving the UNP to take up a similar position. The Tamil community increasingly turned to their own political organisations, represented here by the likes of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, and following the communalist riots of 1981 and 1983 there began the conflict between the Sri Lankan authorities and the rebel Tamil Tigers which has dogged the island ever since.


Scope and content/abstract:

Constitutions, speeches, manifestos, pamphlets, conference reports and instructions, histories, programmes, newspaper cuttings and letters, 1944 onwards, issued by the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, the Communist Party of Sri Lanka, Eksat Jatika Paksaya (Sri Lanka) or United National Party, Janata Vimukti Peramuna, Lanka Sama Samaja Party, Lanka Sama Samaja Party (Revolutionary), Nava Samasamaja Paksaya, Nava Samasamaja Paksaya (UK Branch), Sri Lanka Nidahas Paksaya or Sri Lankan Freedom Party, the United Front (Sri Lanka), the United Left Front (Sri Lanka) and other miscellaneous groups.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
Mostly English, some in Tamil and Sinhalese

System of arrangement:

Alphabetically by party, then in rough chronological order.

Conditions governing access:

Open to all for research purposes; access is free for anyone in higher education.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies can usually be obtained - apply to library staff.

Finding aids:

Records at item level on library catalogue (SASCAT)

Archival Information

Archival history:

The Commonwealth Political Parties Materials collection was begun in 1960-1961, with special emphasis being placed then, as now, on 'primary material such as party constitutions, policy statements, convention reports and election manifestos.' (ICS, Twelfth Annual Report 1960-1961). Since then, the main method of gathering material has been to appeal directly to political parties throughout the Commonwealth, though contributions from Institute members and staff following visits to relevant countries have been significant. More recently material has been collected by means of downloading documents from the websites of the major parties.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Allied Materials

Related material:

See also Sri Lanka: Trades Unions Material (TU.CE) and Sri Lanka: Pressure Groups Material (PG.CE) as well as Political Party, Trades Unions and Pressure Group Materials for other Commonwealth countries and related material in the library's main classified sequence, all held at the ICS.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Description compiled by Daniel Millum, Political Archives Project Officer at the Institutes of Commonwealth and Latin American Studies.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Created 22/09/2004 AIM25

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