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Photo: “Election MG 3455“, by Rama, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 FR, Hue modified from the original

DeVotta, Neil. “Sri Lanka: The Return to Ethnocracy.” Journal of Democracy 32, no. 1 (2021): 96-110.


Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s election as president of Sri Lanka in November 2019 and the covid-19 pandemic have led to increased militarization, while the August 2020 landslide parliamentary victory of the new president’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and subsequent passage of the Twentieth Amendment have set the stage for authoritarian rule. With the Rajapaksa family dominating politics once more, Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists also seek to expand majoritarianism. Sri Lankans, however, take their right to vote seriously, and this combined with the economic challenges related to covid-19 may stem a return toward militarized ethnocracy.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.