Saw Myat Sandy’s study deals with theoretical and empirical analysis of the political transitions in former Yugoslavia and Burma, the present day Myanmar. It covers the transition period of both states from the late 1980s until present. The author examines the democratic transition in both states, where the process has been ‘unsuccessfully accomplished’, i.e. after a very promising beginning sooner or later undermined by the challenges of the transition, which threatened to reverse, what was gained by democratisation.
In this dissertation, Saw Myat Sandy argues that the democratic transition in both states became an extended process of transition’ because of its multi-ethnic societies. The democratisation in former Yugoslavia led to disintegration, and in Myanmar it is proving to be an intractable one and has become almost un-resolvable to anyone’s satisfaction. Myanmar today suffers from on-going political instabilities that cause political and social fragmentations but does not demonstrate that it will fall into conventional Balkan scenarios.
This dissertation analyses if Myanmar’s political transition will follow the former Yugoslavian fate by using the transition theoretical framework and highlighting the empirical facts on the problems of ethnicity and other political factors that relate to these democratisation processes. The theoretical approaches are based on the ‘democratic transition and consolidation theories’ argued by Juan J. Linz, Alfred Stepan and Samuel Huntington. As opposed to many quantitative studies, relevant dimensions will gradually appear in this qualitative case study. The theoretical perspectives that apply are equally significant and supplement each other and relate to its national experience.
The study contributes to the conventional theoretical debate and aims to offer the understanding for the need to expand the link between ethnicity and political transitions in transition theories. It proposes a heuristic method to integrate the dynamic of ethnicity in political transition theories.