Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Parties exchange electoral experiences

What went wrong? Or, alternatively, what went right? Representatives of 42 political parties met last week to share the experiences they accumulated during the campaign leading up to last month’s election.

The winning National League for Democracy, the former ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, and the National Unity Party were the three biggest organisations represented in the event, which was arranged in Yangon by the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD).

Other participants included the United Nationalities Alliance, the Nationalities Brotherhood Federation and the Federal Democratic Alliance.

Daw Khin Thazin Myint, country representative of the DIPD, said the exchange of views gave the parties the chance to consider reform.

“We are going to discuss parties’ limitations and weaknesses in the election, and what they need to do in order to develop,” she said before the meeting, which occurred on December 17 and 18. She said the discussions will result in a review that participants can draw on to help improve their performance in the 2020 election.

“Some parties are conducting internal reviews. We are providing information so that they can make informed decisions for the future,” she said.

U Maung Maung Phyu, a central executive committee member of the Arakan National Party, told The Myanmar Times that his party was considering complaining about “illegal” votes cast. “There are various reasons why we lost in some constituencies. In Thandwe, individuals who were not eligible to vote voted. We could report this to the Union Election Commission,” he said.

U Sai Win Pe, a senior member of Tai’leng Nationalities Development Party, said his party had struggled through the campaign season. “Ethnic parties like ours usually need strong financial support. We also faced communication problems and didn’t have enough advertising,” he said.

His party ran 54 candidates in Kachin State and Sagaing and Mandalay regions, but won only two seats. U Sai Win Pe said his party would remain politically active throughout the next parliamentary term and would contest the 2020 election.

U Win Naing, a member of the Public Contribute Students Democracy Party, admitted that his party had failed to attract much voter interest.

“The biggest lesson we learned is that the leadership and the grassroots members of the party have to keep in touch and be united with the people,” he said, adding that an attempt to mobilise support among squatter families in Hlaing Tharyar had failed. But he said his party would run again in 2020.