The Politics of Burma's "Democratic" Transition

Prospects for Change and Options for Democrats

Author: Morten B. Pedersen


Many have dismissed the military-controlled transition to "democracy" in Burma as a sham that will only further entrench military rule. Others, however, view it as an opportunity to break the army's long-standing stranglehold on power and start a process of gradual reform. The present article considers the transition from a strategic perspective. After briefly revisiting the history of military rule in Burma, it examines the politics of the transition and considers possible scenarios in the short, medium, and longer term. It concludes that, although the military clearly has no intentions of surrendering control of the government, new political leaders, institutions, and processes might open opportunities to improve governance and, over time, transform politics, especially if democrats play their cards right.

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Countries: Burma

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