Realpolitik #12 – Competing Nationalisms

This is an essay I wrote that was recently published online for my university’s undergraduate international affairs magazine, ‘The Sydney Globalist.’ It’s a historical account of the separatist conflict that has been waged in Sri Lanka for over half a century. The original publication can be found here.


The separatist conflict in Sri Lanka has finally come to an end. In May last year, after the loss of over 80,000 lives, the Rajapaksa government celebrated its victory over the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), killing their charismatic leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran. International responses to the end of the war have overwhelmingly been concerned with brokering a more inclusive political environment to ensure that such brutal and intractable conflicts do not occur again.

Previous negotiations to ratify a suitable deal that appeases both the Tamil and Sinhalese communities have broken down on various grounds. These negotiations date back to the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact made more than half a century ago. After briefly tracing the roots of the conflict, this article continues with a history of the negotiations between Sinhala and Tamil representatives, and concludes by suggesting possible improvements and solutions to the intractable Sinhala-Tamil tensions.

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Realpolitik #11 – All for One

“Australian political parties are following the unattractive lead of many other Western democracies – most notably the US – in treating their leaders as brands.” – Hugh Mackay, ‘Correspondence’ in Quarterly Essay 41.

The notion of ‘presidentialization’ is one that is gaining increasing traction in debates around elections. It refers to the phenomenon described above – that is, the removal of the candidate from the broader context of partisan affiliation. Perhaps presidentialization is not the most apt term – it has only been coined in reference to America’s singularly individualistic style of politics.

Prime Minister Gillard & President Obama

The quote above is in reference to Australian politics, but I wish to explore the notion of presidentialization in a global comparative perspective. In short, is politics becoming individualised? Have politicians abandoned party decision-making procedures in favour of the dreaded public opinion poll?

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