Ruling but not Governing: Tutelary Regimes and the Case of Myanmar

Bünte M (2021)

Publication Type: Journal article, Review article

Publication year: 2021


DOI: 10.1017/gov.2020.38


The article sheds light on tutelary regimes, which have so far been left out in the discussion of contemporary authoritarian regimes. It uses a configurative approach to conceptualize tutelary regimes according to the three dimensions of tutelary interference, electoral competitiveness and civil liberties. Tutelary interference is conceived of as a spectrum of possible and not mutually exclusive roles which tutelary powers perform - depending on their position in the political system. Empirically, the article uses a case study of Myanmar's tutelary regime to illustrate how the armed forces' institutionalized powers and prerogatives have helped the country evade substantial democracy. The results show a high degree of regime heterogeneity, with a functioning electoral regime in place but substantial weaknesses in civil liberties. Both are (partly) rooted in the tutelary interference of the military, which is pervasive. The military's position straitjackets the government; the military vetoes certain policies and structural reforms and guards the political system and its prerogatives from a position of strength. Politicians have so far not come up with successful strategies to bring the military under civil control.

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How to cite


Bünte, M. (2021). Ruling but not Governing: Tutelary Regimes and the Case of Myanmar. Government and Opposition.


Bünte, Marco. "Ruling but not Governing: Tutelary Regimes and the Case of Myanmar." Government and Opposition (2021).

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