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Political transition in Myanmar: prospects and problems
journal contributionposted on 2014-07-01, 00:00 authored by Damien KingsburyDamien Kingsbury
Since 2011, Myanmar has been undergoing a political transition that, in keeping with the Myanmar government's own claims, has been hailed by many previously critical countries as the start of a process of democratization. Myanmar has become a substantially more liberal country, and in particular its economy has been increasingly liberalized, away from the tight restrictions of the past. However, Myanmar's economic liberalization primarily benefits its entrenched and usually military-dominated or linked elites, while its political liberalization may be just enough to satisfy an appearance of democratization without the army giving up real power. This article looks at Myanmar's process of political liberalization set against some of the literature on political transitions, and highlights some factors that could militate against extensive reform, much less democratization. It concludes by noting that while Myanmar's military has started to step back from direct political control, it still retains ultimate state authority. © 2014 Policy Studies Organization.