Political change in Myanmar:
Filtering the murky waters of "disciplined democracy"
The Finnish Institute of International Affairs
Download PDF (232 Kb)
transformation in Myanmar has brushed up the country’s international status and
image, and Western and Asian countries alike are eager to reap the benefits of
the ongoing changes, but the economy and financial sectors are in dire need of
In order to
increase the awareness for further reforms, Western input is vital. Given the
fact that the EU has always been a strong economic player in Myanmar and in
East Asia in general, it is in a position to offer important incentives for
further change by increasing development aid, rewarding gradual political
reform, and investing in joint ventures while taking into account social
greatest challenge likely lies in Myanmar’s continuing ethnic tensions. Here
the EU can offer expertise on conflict mediation and capacity-building, acting
as a "middle power” or regional stabilizer.
In spite of
these remaining challenges, the ongoing gradual reforms are more than a
cosmetic contrivance for Western consumption, and are likely to continue. Current
key actors in the ruling USDP party have been groomed for a future role as
civilian leaders in the "discipline-flourishing democracy”, and are reform-minded.
The national elections in 2015 will reveal to what extent the ruling elite is
genuinely dedicated to further democratization.
True democracy in the Western sense will require substantial
changes in the constitution. This,
however, is impossible without the support of the military and will therefore
likely be a lengthy process.