Two Concepts of Federalism in Myanmar : How the 2021 Military Coup Reshaped Political Discourse and Opposition Institutions

Aung Kaung MYAT*, Roman DAVID, Ian HOLLIDAY

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

Abstract

Consensus democracies outperform their majoritarian counterparts, but reform is difficult. From an institutional perspective, a dominant majority can block change. From a political culture perspective, democracy is endogenous to context. However, critical junctures can alter not only political configuration but also political culture. In Myanmar, the Bamar majority split following the 2021 military coup. One fragment aligned with coup leaders. Another, certainly larger, joined ethnic minorities in opposition and resistance. Did the coup inspire a shift toward consensus politics? This article looks before and after the coup at peak institutions and Facebook posts. Opposition institutions in the 2020s are more diverse than cabinets led by the National League for Democracy in the 2010s. Political discourse has shifted from democratic federalism, with a focus on centralized control, to federal democracy, with a centrifugal dynamic. These findings reveal significant change in a centralized authoritarian state long controlled by the Bamar majority.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberpjac041
JournalPublius
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Dec 2022

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