Myanmar is going to the polls this November. Is this a chance to become a more inclusive democracy?
About this event
Later this year, Myanmar is scheduled to hold its third general election in six decades in a landmark development for the country’s democratic transition. As of now the Southeast Asian state is set to hold its expected polls as the ruling party faces manifold challenges that could pose significant risks for the future trajectory of reform, freedom and inclusion.
Myanmar had been under the rule of the military for a half-century. An opening in the 2010s saw subsequent political inroads made that turned the country into a rare story of hope for democracy. The changes culminated in the assumption of power by the long-time opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), led by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, following a landslide win in free national elections held in November 2015.
Nearly five years on, the NLD have undertaken reforms in some areas but they have not lived up to the high expectations that existed when they took office. Politically, at home, the relationship with ethnic groups has worsened over the years as hopes for national reconciliation and decentralisation have dimmed.
Abroad, though Myanmar has reinforced its foreign alignments, the balance of those alignments continues to be hampered by the legacy of the Rohingya crisis, which soured ties with some Western countries, including Canada. Security-wise, the country’s ongoing ethnic conflicts have shown few signs of abating, despite initial hopes for peace and talk of a temporary ceasefire amid COVID-19.
Economically, major issues remain in areas such as jobs, infrastructure, and foreign investment, in part exacerbated by the aforementioned stalled efforts at national reconciliation. The elections could help consolidate the country’s fragile electoral democracy, by increasing more inclusive representation of Myanmar’s society.
Facilitated by the Knowledge For Democracy - Myanmar (K4DM) Initiative, this webinar’s agenda includes representatives from the Open Myanmar Initiative (OMI), Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation (EMReF) and the Centre for Development and Ethnic Studies (CDES) who will be discussing the research they are conducting on politics and elections.
The webinar is in Burmese (with simultaneous translation to English).
Aye Kyaw, Executive Director at OMI, will speak about democratic elections and their impacts on democratic transition, reflection Myanmar’s own experience and the potential outcome of the 2020 election.
Aye Lei Tun, Senior Gender Program Manager at EMReF, will present the findings of her research, which seeks to understand women’s political participation in Myanmar.
Dr. Moses C. Tehlo, Research Director at CDES, will explain the strategies ethnic political parties are using to compete against major parties in the 2020 election.
Nay Yan Oo, Master of Public Policy at Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford