Democracy is still young in, Asia. Because of its youth there is considerable vigour and exuberance ; be-=cause of its comparative novelty there is both optimism and pessimism ; because of its relative strangeness both fear and hope. Many seek to test the success of Asian Democracy by applying the standards of the more mature and stable western states. Yet Asian countries are still struggling to be nations. Their progress towards nationhood is still bewildered and confused and it is no easy task to choose a steady course through the welter of different culture-patterns, heterogeneous economic levels, conflicting modes of conduct and antagonistic economic, social, linguistic and religious communities.
This book on the General Election in Ceylon of 1956 ha therefore not been written in the manner of a purely ps hological study following the distinguished efforts of Nu eld College. My aim has been partly to tell the story of an Asian general election and partly to relate that story to the conflicting and sometimes confusing web of a com-plex and heterogeneous society. This study is largely based on an analysis of election literature, the national and party press, other ancillary literature and the replies sent by candidates to my questionnaires. It was not possible to supplement the _general picture that evolved from it by intensive case studies. It was not even possible to supplement it by a small-scale opinion survey. With all its limitations this study would not have been made possible but for the generous assistance I received from all quarters. I am obliged to the University of Ceylon for sponsoring this study, and for financial and secretarial assistance. I received the full co-operation of the` national’press and the goodwill of all the political parties.