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Challenging the West’s Narrative on Sri Lanka’s ‘Victory for Democracy’: Devaka Gunawardena

Guest Post by DEVAKA GUNAWARDENA

Of the many pieties that have been promoted in the Western media in the aftermath of Maithripala Sirisena’s victory over incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa in the recent Sri Lankan presidential election, none has been more cherished than the notion that Sri Lanka is now on board with “democracy.”[1] This claim is counter-posed to Sri Lanka’s recent cozy relationship with China and other authoritarian countries. A new Cold War is supposedly being fought, with Sri Lanka’s election reduced to its strategic relevance to policy makers.

At the same time the dominant narrative promoted by Western media and diplomats has been conveniently ignored in other places where it is considered politically unfeasible to support democracy. The same diplomats and officials that criticized the previous Rajapaksa regime have often argued that equally if not more repressive governments in places such as the Middle East are “on the path to democracy.” This claim temporizes the same political expectations that have been applied to Sri Lanka. Continue reading Challenging the West’s Narrative on Sri Lanka’s ‘Victory for Democracy’: Devaka Gunawardena