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Stefano Ruzza and Giuseppe Gabusi

Myanmar has been a tightly closed military autocracy since 1962, and hence its recent political transition may look sudden and spectacular. Apparently, the military junta finally conceded to longstanding popular demands for a democratic turn, conceding elections which were won by Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy. But has the junta really conceded to popular demand? And has the change actually been so sudden? This chapter challenges these assumptions by employing Samuel Huntington “third wave democratization” framework. It looks at deep-rooted and proximate factors that allowed for political change, showing how the process of political transformation has been mostly top-down, written and directed by the military elite, and slow-running from 1988 to now.