Preparing Parties for Campaigns
As Myanmar’s April by-elections approach, political parties are preparing for the campaigns and elections. For some constituencies, including Kyethi and Mongshu Constituencies in Shan State, these will be the first elections held in many years. Numerous challenges remain for parties as they learn how to conduct regular campaign activities and win votes in a competitive multiparty dispensation.
To support effective and democratic campaigning approaches by political parties, DIPD, through its Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme, held capacity building sessions for all parties participating in the elections and their candidates on “Preparing Parties for Campaign” in Nay Pyi Taw from 13th– 14th January, in Yangon from 23rd to 24th January and in Taunggyi from 29th– 30th January. Participation by parties and their candidates was high, and even included parties preparing for the 2020 elections. A total of 139 participants from 13 political parties and six Independent Candidates attended the respective capacity building trainings in Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and Taunggyi. The capacity building activity served as a platform to identify challenges in campaigning and develop solutions to address on those challenges through social media and other techniques.
“It is vital to listen to the needs of the voters in your constituencies. Knowing the opinion leaders and key players in your constituencies such as township or village chairman is an asset in getting updated information about the constituencies and their needs,” said Mindy Walker, Consultant Trainer, who encouraged parties and candidates to reach out to their constituents and understand their interests. The participants discussed the challenges in accessibility and voter awareness in rural constituencies as well as the coordination between political parties and journalists on reporting processes.
“Technical inputs regarding messaging and campaigning are still much needed and welcomed during this transition period of Myanmar,” according to Dr. Kyaw Htay, the Central Secretary of USDP. Broader concerns remain regarding social media campaigning in the rural constituencies with limited internet access. U Myo Min Aung, Communication Officer from MIDO, reinforced the need for increased ICT awareness in rural areas of Myanmar to facilitate easier communication. MIDO demonstrated a range of different social media platforms such as Facebook, Viber and Beetalk that can be useful in promoting political dialogue and sharing information.
DIPD’s commitment to supporting parties and their candidates to be peaceful and democratic participants in Myanmar’s elections will help build a democratic multiparty system for the years to come. While numerous challenges lie ahead, DIPD’s support is useful to parties as they seek to establish a more level playing field and positive electoral competition.
Read more about DIPD’s work in Myanmar, where we are part of the EU supported STEP Democracy Programme.
Contact DIPD Senior Advisor, Hanne Lund Madsen: hlm@dipd.