Nov. 24, 2015, 4:19 p.m.
Myanmar’s Historic 2015 Elections
On Election Day on November 8, Myanmar citizens demonstrated that they are enthusiastically ready for a democratic transition and they took to the streets to exercise their right to vote and have a voice in the future of their country.
In 2010, Myanmar’s election was fatally flawed from the perspective of both the country’s leaders and the international community, notably because the main opposition party the National League for Democracy (NLD) boycotted the election believing the process to be unfair. In 2015, 93 parties contested the election including the NLD, and there are now 33.5 million registered voters on Myanmar’s voter registry. Millions of people voted for the first time on November 8 in a much freer, open and connected society than in 2010. Regardless of the outcome, the democratic philosophy for organizing a society’s future is on the cusp of affirmation for the first time in Myanmar.
Since 1986 in the Philippines when I was an observer for the Marcos-Aquino election, I’ve been privileged to occasionally witness an entire society exercise the vote to direct a country’s future. That’s how I felt on the eve of this election. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) partnered with the Union Election Commission (UEC) to design and deliver the voting process to the people. It was hard work by the IFES team to build trust, capacity and deliverables for the first time in the economically poorest country in Southeast Asia that had been isolated for decades.
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