Democratic Dawn? Civil Society and Elections in Myanmar 2010–2012

Michael Lidauer


While the general elections in Myanmar in November 2010 were widely condemned, both national and international actors approached the by-elections of April 2012 as a political rite-de-passage to improve relations between the government and the opposition inside, and between the former pariah state and the international community outside the country. An undercurrent to the government-led transition process from an authoritarian to a formally more democratic regime was the development of a politically oriented civil society that found ways to engage in the electoral process. This article describes the emerging spaces of election-related civil society activism in the forms of civic and voter education, national election observation, and election-related agency in the media. Noting that, in particular, election observation offers connections for civil society to regional and international debates, the paper draws preliminary conclusions about further developments ahead of the general elections in Myanmar expected for 2015.

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