Failure of the Saffron Revolution and aftermath: Revisiting the transitologist assumption

Xu Hui Simon SHEN, Chi Yuen Paul CHAN

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Myanmar often baffles political scientists throughout the world for the resilience of its military regime and its resistance to attempts at democratization. Although Eastern Europe provides a plethora of examples reaffirming the rosy picture that Western democracy will gradually prevail as the universal political system, Myanmar seems to offer an exception. Paradoxically, most of the factors conducive to the introduction of democratization — such as increasing costs for military maintenance, a long-term economic fiasco, widespread local mobilization, sweeping electoral defeats for the military-backed government, international boycotts and condemnation — exist in Myanmar. In August 2007, a new spate of uprisings, later to become known as the “Saffron Revolution” or the “Saffron Uprising,” was suppressed by the Myanmar junta, leaving the junta to continue in power to mishandle the disastrous cyclone of May 2008. Why does the transitologist assumption for democratization record consistent failure in this country? By consulting primary and secondary sources available in the East and the West, this paper sets out to describe the limitations of the transitologist approach when applied to Myanmar by examining the socio-economic and geo-political situation, and its implications. Copyright © 2010 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-57
JournalThe Journal of Comparative Asian Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


Shen, S., Chan, P. C.-Y. (2010). Failure of the Saffron Revolution and aftermath: Revisiting the transitologist assumption. The Journal of Comparative Asian Development, 9(1), 31-57.


  • Democratization
  • Saffron Revolution
  • Separatism
  • Myanmar
  • Transitology


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