Rule of law Myanmar

Myanmar 2020: How to balance democracy and public health?

When it comes to democracy, countries across the world are faced with a dilemma during the covid-19 pandemic: should they hold elections at the cost of public health or postpone them at the cost of people’s right to vote?

Before Myanmar’s general elections set for November 2020, the Union Election Commission and election stakeholders must discuss and decide on how to adapt the electoral process to mitigate public health risks. Civil society groups have a key role to play, presenting their concerns as well as proposing potential solutions.

To help overcome this challenge, DRI Myanmar has been holding a series of webinars with civil society and international experts to share experiences from Sri Lanka, New Zealand, as well as some European and African countries. This shared knowledge forms the basis for constructive discussion on how to tackle risks during Myanmar's election.

One civil society participant noted: “Through the webinar series, I was able to learn about other countries and felt that we are not alone in overcoming this situation. I could share my perspective and insights on the possible approaches to mitigate the public health risks during elections and I believe that with my knowledge from the webinar series, I can effectively present advocacy points to political parties and the government. I also plan to share these on social media for public awareness on elections.”

DRI supports national election observers in Myanmar as part of the STEP Democracy Programme funded by the European Union. We will continue to organise webinars on elections and covid-19 to strengthen local civil society groups involved in election observation and advocacy.