Political Parties and Interest Groups
CONSTITUENT DEMANDS in a political system are a way of linking the governed with the governors. In every successful democracy, there is a considerable amount of communication between the constituents, who bring their needs to their representatives, and the representatives, who, because of their accountability in elections, must respond to the demands.
Demands may be presented to the government by two broad categories of constituents--individuals and groups such as political parties and interest groups. As discussed later in this chapter, Sri Lankan members of parliament receive a large number of individual requests from their constituents. In addition, government officials are approached by various groups in the society.
National politics in Sri Lanka has been dominated by two parties, the United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. In eight of the last nine parliamentary elections the parties have replaced each other as the governing party. Despite the national dominance of the UNP and the SLFP, Sri Lanka has had two party systems--one for the Tamil-speaking minority in the north and the east and one for the rest of the country. Neither the SLFP nor the UNP has been able to win support from the Tamils of the north and east.
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party is the dominant party in the governing People's Alliance. The party of the moderate left has always had a difficult time holding its leftist supporters together. The party has been damaged by factional infighting that led to its collapse after it governed from 1970