Myanmar: Civil-Military Relations in a Tutelary Regime

Bünte M (2021)

Publication Language: English

Publication Type: Book chapter / Article in edited volumes

Publication year: 2021

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Edited Volumes: Oxford Encyclopedia of the Military in Politics

City/Town: Oxford


DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.1887


Myanmar has had one of the longest ruling military regimes in the world. Ruling directly or indirectly for more than five decades, Myanmar’s armed forces have been able to permeate the country’s main political institutions, its economy, and its society. Myanmar is a highly revealing case study for examining the trajectory of civil–military relations over the past seven decades. Myanmar ended direct military rule only in 2011 after the military had become the most powerful institution in society, weakened the political party opposition severely, coopted several ethnic armed groups, and built up a business empire that allowed it to remain financially independent. The new tutelary regime—established in 2011 after proclaiming a roadmap to “discipline flourishing democracy” in 2003, promulgating a new constitution in 2008, and holding (heavily scripted) elections in 2010—allowed a degree of power-sharing between elected civilian politicians and the military for a decade. Although policymaking in economic, financial, and social arenas was transferred to the elected government, the military remained in firm control of external and internal security and continued to be completely autonomous in the management of its own affairs. As a veto power, the military was also able to protect its prerogatives from a position of strength. Despite this dominant position in the government, civil–military relations were hostile and led to a coup in February 2021. The military felt increasingly threatened and humiliated as civilians destroyed the guardrails it had put in place to protect its core interests within the tutelary regime. The military also felt increasingly alienated as the party the military had established repeatedly failed to perform in the elections.

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How to cite


Bünte, M. (2021). Myanmar: Civil-Military Relations in a Tutelary Regime. In William Thompson and Hicham Bou Nassif (Eds.), Oxford Encyclopedia of the Military in Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Bünte, Marco. "Myanmar: Civil-Military Relations in a Tutelary Regime." Oxford Encyclopedia of the Military in Politics. Ed. William Thompson and Hicham Bou Nassif, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021.

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