Burma Votes for Change: The New Configuration of Power

Issue Date April 2016
Volume 27
Issue 2
Page Numbers 116-131
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The Burmese military’s decision to abide by the outcome of the November 2015 general elections, which saw a landslide by the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, shows that the country’s emerging institutions—the constitution, parliament, and the party and election systems that were activated only during the political opening in 2010—have the power and capacity to produce real political change despite their obvious democratic deficits. The military intends to cooperate with the incoming NLD administration but will guard against any efforts of reforming the constitution, which grants them veto prerogative. Rather than pushing immediately for institutional autonomy through constitutional reform (thereby risking military intervention), the new civilian government should uphold the guiding principle of inclusive reconciliation while seeking to shift the orientation of existing institutions away from the military.

About the Author

Min Zin, a student activist in Burma’s 1988 democracy movement, is currently a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Burma country analyst for Freedom House. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Foreign Policy, and other publications.

View all work by Min Zin