With the general elections approaching in 2020, some political parties and electoral stakeholders are increasingly resorting to nationalist polarization as a means to gather voter support- developing campaign messages that portray cultural and religious diversity as a threat. As a result, this bears several risks both for elections as well as peace processes.
In order to discuss ways in which pluralism could be better protected in Myanmar and how pluralism and nation-building can be connected to achieve sustainable conflict transformation, the EU-funded STEP Democracy programme – through Democracy Reporting International (DRI) – collaborated with Mosaic Myanmar organized a roundtable discussion on Pluralism and General Elections in the first week of February.
Participants from political parties, civil society organizations and members of parliament discussed on how to accommodate diversity in the constitution amendment process as well as in current peace process. Participants also suggested that citizenship issue is important for recognition of diversity -while the role of education through a curriculum of school and university or informal education is vital to promote diverse history, ethnics and all religions.
"I join this roundtable discussion to collect the voices which would be useful for the process of constitution amendment. I consider that an approach with Federalism by enacting each own state constitution is the best way to pave the pluralism" said by one MP of Pyithu Hluttaw.
According to the post-event online assessment, 90% of the total participants mentioned the contents of the workshop are very supportive for the projects of their organizations. 55 % of the participants were aware that pluralism is very important for the Myanmar democratic transition. 60% of the participants responded that they want to discuss about political pluralism and 30 % want to discuss legal pluralism in the future.
Further dialogue events- bringing all the stakeholders- will be organized in order to find the better options to Promote Pluralism in Myanmar and handbook for Pluralism will be published in the near future.