There is something particular, though perhaps not unique, about Ceylonese nationalism, or, to be more precise, about recent Ceylonese nationalism. In the last years of colonial rule, Ceylon appeared to be sliding gently and quietly along the road to independence, with properly conducted constitutional change to mark the milestones; when colonial rule ended on February 4, 1948, it seemed that the gentleness and quietness was to continue into the era of independence itself. But with the 1956 elections there came an apparently sudden change. In the elections themselves, a landslide overwhelmed the long-dominant United National Party in a way that has not so far afflicted the Indian Congress or other similar parties, and a new Government came into power borne, it seemed, on the crest of a second wave of nationalism, of a different and more violent quality than its predecessor. There followed a period of rapid change, of communal strife, riots and emergencies, of political assassination; and, in 1962, there was an attempted coup d'état followed by political arrests. Such is still the instability of the contemporary scene in Ceylon that he would be a bold prophet who would dare to forecast the next political surprise.

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