restricted access Understanding Recent Political Changes in Myanmar

Since the new government took power in 2011, the citizens of Myanmar have enjoyed a greater degree of freedom than at any time since the military seized power in 1962. This article explains how the recent political changes in Myanmar have come about. In so doing, it argues that the absence of a rigid paramount leader who opposes reconciliation with the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the challenges posed by serious economic problems and positive responses from Western countries and pro-democracy leaders in Myanmar have allowed liberals in the government to work together for the further liberalization of the country’s political system. However, Myanmar still has a long way to go before it can become a full-fledged democracy. There still are hardliners in both camps who are unsatisfied with the pace of reforms: hardliners in the government think that the pace of reform is too fast while hardliners in the pro-democracy movement feel that they are too slow. Both groups could still generate instability in the country, prompting a military coup. Myanmar is at the crossroads and the cooperation between all sections of society will allow the country to become a full-fledged democracy.