Democratizing municipal elections in Myanmar

Democratizing municipal elections in Myanmar

As democratic space has grown in Myanmar, introducing greater democracy in municipal and local elections can provide an opportunity to improve local governance and enhance citizen participation. To support the development of democratic local governance, DIPD has, together with its partners Democracy Reporting International (DRI) and International IDEA, provided a range of support to efforts to establish democratic municipal elections in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. The initiative, supported by the European Union under the STEP Democracy program, seeks to advance the democratization of local elections, which have so far not met minimum standards for democratic elections.

In Yangon, a new municipal law introducing universal suffrage was passed on 28 June. The new municipal law incorporated a range of public feedback and international best practices, based on consultations with DIPD, its STEP partners, and a range of civil society organizations, political parties, and other interested persons. To continue support for this process, on 14-15 August, DIPD, together with its STEP consortium partners, held a multi-stakeholder consultation workshop on the election framework for the Yangon municipal elections.

Forty people including the Chairman, Secretary and Members of the Bills Committee from the Yangon Region Parliament, political party representatives, and CSOs joined the two-day workshop, and engaged each other in an open discussion on municipal election framework and what should be included in the by-laws for the elections. A coalition of Myanmar CSOs presented their recommendations for YCDC elections, collected from prior CSO consultation workshops. DRI and DIPD also shared international best practices and challenges for YCDC Elections. Key issues discussed included the formation of an electoral commission for YCDC, the operational mechanisms for the election process, and how to define constituencies.

One of the participants provided the feedback on the workshop that it was so great to get involved in this part of the process which leads to free, fair & credible elections for Yangon municipal sector.

Recommendations from the workshop will be sent to the Yangon Region Government and Yangon Region Parliament to be considered while drafting the municipal by-laws. As power to draw and enact a by-law is in hand of the government, DIPD and its international and local partners will try to provide technical support in the policy adoption process as well as consultative process between the government and local CSOs, political parties and other stakeholders.

Read more about DIPD’s Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme.