Sri Lanka: Political Parties Material

Scope and Content

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.

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.


Alphabetically by party, then in rough chronological order.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Other Finding Aids

Records at item level on library catalogue (SASCAT)

Archivist's Note

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

Conditions Governing Use

Copies can usually be obtained - apply to library staff.

Custodial 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.


Further accruals are expected, some in electronic form.

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.

Geographical Names