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The Tatmadaw Legacy and Beyond

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On the Risks for the Democratisation Process in Myanmar

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The ongoing democratisation process in Myanmar represents one of the most relevant ‘stress tests’ for the democratic transition theory. This theory actually considers stateness as a prerequisite for democracy; and, consequently, concentrates mainly on the mode of progression of the state from dictatorship to representative government. We assume, on the contrary, that, particularly after 1989, the very idea of stateness is being questioned more and more (and not only in developing countries). This paper does not intend to add original data relative to Myanmar’s recent history. It rather aims to shed some new light on Myanmar’s democratisation process, approaching the issue as a specific case-study of democratic transition affected by clustered sovereignty. The introduction will attempt to explain the main methodological prerequisites of the paper. The article will then analyse the three main risk factors affecting the democratisation process in Myanmar: (1) the (in)ability to neutralise the autonomous centres of power equipped with means of coercion and return them to a shared political sphere; (2) the (in)ability to integrate different intra-group networks in the shared political sphere; (3) the (in)ability to eliminate or at least reduce the social inequalities, detaching them from the shared political sphere.

Affiliations: 1: University of Turin and T.wai, Torino World Affairs Institute


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