Activities in Myanmar
Through the Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme (MMDP), a multi-facetted approach is being implemented. Most important is the gradual development of a multiparty dialogue platform, where the all the political parties are invited to participate in trainings, workshops and dialogue meetings. The dialogue platform is supported by a Political Party Resource Centre, which acts both a knowledge facility and as a neutral meeting ground on which parties can engage in cross-political dialogue. In addition to the establishing of a knowledge resource facility for political parties, workshops on political party financing are being held. As are capacity building for young political party members and seminars on youth-friendly policies, and various activities focusing on media handling in political parties and the role of media in relation to the political parties. Finally, a regional component focusing on women in politics is being developed in 2016.
The 2015 general elections marks the next important benchmark in Myanmar’s democratic transition. Not only will the elections give the Burmese people a chance to let their voices be heard, it will also be an important litmus test of just how far the political parties have developed. Elections tend to bring out both the best and the worst of the political parties and their organization and democratic capacity will be tested. The same goes for the media, who is still largely unaccustomed to the role of a critical watchdog and the fourth pillar of a well-functioning democracy.
Now in its fourth year, MMDP is continuously exploring new ways and methods of supporting the democratic transition in Myanmar.
The five components of the MMDP is being implemented through partnerships with various local and international organizations. Furthermore, with the start-up of a new EU funded consortium in 2015, the pool of partnerships has expanded.
The EU Consortium is a collaboration between International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (Int. IDEA), Democracy Reporting International (DRI), Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) and DIPD. Through the consortium we aim at strengthening governance in support of Myanmar’s democratic transition and support the electoral process.
Through the consortium a number of strategic and ad-hoc partners are involved in the programme, including Hornbill Organization (HBO), Naushawng Education Network (NSEN), Scholar Institute (SI), Myanmar Egress (ME), as well as the Union Election Commission (UEC), political parties and selected CSO’s.
Through the consortium and the adherent partnerships, the five components of the MMDP are implemented.
The current EU-funded programme runs from 2014 to the end of 2017, after which a new phase is being prepared.
The programme in Myanmar has been developed according to the three main objectives:
- Facilitation of an informal, inclusive, non-partisan multi-party dialogue platform, that addresses key issues of national concern;
- Strengthening the democratic role of political parties in a cross-party setting;
- Fostering relationships between political parties and the media around issues of mutual concern.
We approach these challenges through five different components:
- Multi-party dialogue and Political Party Resource and Dialogue Centre
In response to requests from political parties in Myanmar, the MMDP have established a knowledge Resource Facility for political parties to access international knowledge and experiences in a number of areas.
MMDP will furthermore develop the resource center tapping national and international knowledge pertaining to the thematic areas of work and to the work of political parties in Myanmar. The resource center will be a library and a physical meeting place for political parties and provide the facilities for multiparty dialogues to take place on current issues of interests to the political parties. Moreover, facilitation of consultation meetings between the political parties and the UEC focusing both on the priorities outlined in the Strategic Plan of the UEC and on the priorities among the political parties took place in the lead up to the 2015 parliamentary elections.
Sharing ideas and experiences on multi-party dialogue from other countries were also carried out in 2014, thereby providing the Myanmar political parties a first-hand experience of multi-party dialogue platforms in countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Nepal and Ghana.
- Political Party Financing
The key issue of political party financing was addressed for the first time in a seminar for political parties in Myanmar, where the challenges with fundraising, accountability and regulation were highlighted. More than 50 representatives from 46 registered political parties explored the role of political parties in party finance during a two-day workshop organized jointly by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme (MMDP) in Yangon 28-29 November 2013.
In the next phase, the component on Party Financing will be a key area of work of the MMDP in cooperation with IDEA and in close consultations with the UEC.
Read the Mango Political Party Financial Health Check Manual, Myanmar version.
- Strengthening Youth Engagement in Politics
MMDP has conducted consultations with political parties and many other stakeholders to understand the current landscape in Myanmar with regard to youth in political parties. During these consultations, the engagement of youth in political parties was identified as a key priority and the political parties have a keen interest in furthering the role of youth in the parties. Based on the findings, a three-year project on youth in political parties has been developed. Launched on 29 and 30 May 2014, the project is now a core component of the MMDP. The launching seminar was entitled “Youth Engagement in Political Parties”. In line with MMDP’s partnership approach, the youth launch was undertaken jointly with the Innovative and ActionAid Myanmar.
The seminar offered a unique forum through which youth party members and other youth had the opportunity to exchange and discuss issues of shared concern and national importance and engage in dialogue on key challenges and opportunities in further deepening Myanmar’s democratic processes.
The Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme will continue the dialogue and action planning with the political parties and with youth in political parties on the themes related to capacity development and training.
4. Women in political parties
The final component focus on improving the access of women in political parties to leadership, central decision-making and policy-making processes. In order to achieve this, a series of national forums on gender equality issues and political party leadership is being conducted, in combination with adjecent advocacy and dialogue meetings on gender sensitive party policy platforms and party reforms for women in leadership.
Visit the Step Democracy webpage for more info on the focus on youth and women in political parties.
5. Role of media and political parties
The media component is a core activity of MMDP with the overall objective of increasing dialogue and understanding between political parties and the media in support of democratization in Myanmar. Based on consultations, seminars and research, activities will be the following:
Elections – Media and political parties during election campaign and voting – including a code of conduct.
Voice and Accountability – looking into how both parties and media are central in giving voice to the citizens and help in developing accountability mechanisms.
Toolbox – Guidance and advice on how to organize the internal and external communication in a political party. The component is being implemented in collaboration with IMS and local media organizations, while also drawing on the expertise of other international organizations in the field.
The themes and thematic components are all suited for cross-party training and tailor-made follow-up mentoring within the involved parties as well as for fostering cross-political dialogue and identification of joint issues and possibly reform measures. The core principles of MMDP when engaging in multi-party support are inclusiveness (inviting all parliamentary parties), impartiality (taking a non-partisan approach) and ownership (local actors set the agenda).
A series of multi-party meetings and multi-stakeholder conferences
The seminar on the role of political parties in democratic transitions held in early 2013 was the first activity of the series of multi-party dialogue meetings. During consultations with political parties and many other stakeholders in Myanmar, we found a great interest in having an opportunity to discuss the transitional experiences of parties in other countries and to consider the best way forward in Myanmar. Serving as the background paper for the seminar is the translated version of the DIPD Reader Political Parties in Democratic Transitions.
The aim of the seminar was to share international experiences of the pivotal role of political parties especially during the transitional periods. The seminar also aimed to increase joint understanding of the key challenges and ways forward for the political parties in Myanmar and finally provided an opportunity and space for dialogue on issues of shared concern in a multi-party setting.
Many more of this type of dialogue seminars will take place in the future.
Exposure and exchange
The programme also gives emphasis to ‘peer-to-peer’ exchange and exposure visits between politicians from DIPD partner countries and politicians from Myanmar. These exchange visits provide an opportunity to share experiences on a broad spectrum of issues, which could include experiences with democratic transition processes, the set-up of multi-party dialogue platforms, and the shaping of a structured policy reform agenda for the multiparty dialogue platform. The visits take place either abroad or in Myanmar. In the case of the latter, the international political delegations while in Myanmar can also relate to civil society organizations, parliamentarians, etc. who are also interested in understanding how the political practice and culture can develop.
In June 2015, a cross-political youth delegation from Myanmar visited Denmark. During their visit, they met with several important actors in the Danish political system, including youth parties, the Speaker of the Danish Parliament and various parliamentarians, the Danish Youth Council and Denmark’s largest youth organization, the Red Cross Youth.
Furthermore, a Danish cross-political delegation consisting of three former MP’s visited Myanmar in August 2015. The purpose of their visit was two political conferences, one on Women in Politics and one on Coalition Building, and this was the perfect opportunity for them to share their experiences from their own parties and from a long career in Danish politics.
For more information
Hanne Lund Madsen, Senior Advisor at DIPD: firstname.lastname@example.org or (+45) 38 40 28 02
Khin Thazin Myint, Myanmar Country Representative: email@example.com or (+95) 9 519 4929