Beyond electoral authoritarianism in transitional Myanmar

Nicholas Farrelly

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This article reassesses notions of 'electoral authoritarianism' as applied to the changed political terrain in Myanmar. It examines the various mechanisms through which the lingering influences of earlier political contestation are being integrated into transitional Myanmar's public and social life. While the evolving Myanmar system is inevitably informed by the dictatorial experience there is a new effort to embrace countercurrents in the shift away from long-term military rule. The argument is that the transitional system mobilises key elements and personnel from the dictatorial period alongside growing opportunities for those who most actively opposed the military dictatorship, including in the pivotal 1988 period. The paradox of political culture under these arrangements means that the notion of a stable electorally authoritarian model needs careful reappraisal. Such stability has been replaced by an appreciation that incremental liberalisation and gradually increasing participation can help to change an entrenched political order. The efforts of the transitional government (2011 to 2015) to implement changes to the economy, the political system and the wider social situation have ensured that creeping reform has become the new norm in a post-authoritarian system where compromise had previously been hard to find.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)15-31
    JournalEuropean Journal of East Asian Studies (EJEAS)
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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