With the Covid-19 global pandemic, election stakeholders across the world face the dilemma to decide whether to hold the elections at the cost of public health or to postpone the elections at the cost of people’s right to participate. Good practice examples exist however, such as the Republic of Korea, which held its National Assembly elections in mid-April 2020, and Sri Lanka, which plans to hold parliamentary elections in August 2020.
Before the Myanmar’s General Elections set for November 2020, the Union Election Commission and electoral stakeholders need to discuss and decide how to adapt the electoral process to mitigate risks for public health. Civil society organizations have a key role to play by presenting public concerns and advocating for solutions.
In support of national election observers, the EU-funded STEP Democracy's International partner Democracy Reporting International (DRI) convened a series of webinars with CSOs and international experts in April, May, and June 2020. These events shared comparative experiences on Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Europe and Africa as a basis for a constructive discussion about Myanmar elections.
One focus of these webinars was on how the collaboration of stakeholders can help to tackle risks during the pandemic.
“Through the webinar series, I was able to learn about comparative cases from other countries and felt that we are not alone in overcoming this situation. I could share my perspective and insights on possible approaches to mitigate the risks arising from the pandemic for elections and I believe, with my knowledge from the webinar series, I can effectively present advocacy points to political parties and government and also plan to share these on social media for public awareness on elections” said a CSO webinar participant that works on election processes.
STEP Democracy will continue to organize webinars on elections and Covid-19 to build the capacity of local CSOs involved in election observation and election advocacy.
The European Union (EU) funded programme ‘Support to Electoral Processes and Democracy – STEP Democracy’ – supports inclusive, peaceful, and credible electoral processes and enhances the capacity of national stakeholders to strengthen Myanmar’s democratic transition.