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Democracy, development and the executive presidency in Sri Lanka

Venugopal, Rajesh ORCID: 0000-0002-7498-7712 (2015) Democracy, development and the executive presidency in Sri Lanka. Third World Quarterly, 36 (4). pp. 670-690. ISSN 0143-6597

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Identification Number: 10.1080/01436597.2015.1024400


This paper examines the developmental causes and consequences of the shift from a parliamentary to a semi-presidential system in Sri Lanka in 1978, examining its provenance, rationale, and its unfolding trajectory. drawing on a wide range of sources, it set out an argument that the executive presidency was born out of an elite impulse to create a more stable, centralised political structure to resist the welfarist electoral pressures that had taken hold in the post-independence period, and to pursue a market-driven model of economic growth. This strategy succeeded in its early years 197801993, when presidents retained legislative control, maintained a strong personal commitment to market reforms, and cultivated alternative sources of legitimacy. In the absence of these factors, the presidency slipped into crisis over 1994-2004 as resistance to elite-led projects of state reform mounted and as the president lost control of the legislature. Since 2005 the presidency has regained its power, but at the cost of abandoning its original rationale and function as a means to recalibrate the elite/mass power relations to facilitate elite-led reform agendas.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2015 Southseries Inc.
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2015 11:22
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 02:56

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