Myanmar’s 2020 election raises critical questions about the substance of democracy, and especially ethnic representation. Most ethnic parties performed poorly in the 2015 election but is expected to get increased support this year, as many ethnic voters have been disappointed by the performance of the National League of Democracy-government. The expectation is that consolidated ethnic parties could become an important political bloc after the election. This raises the prospects for more substantive representation and a possible alliance with a new NLD-government, but there are also concerns that ethnic parties and constituencies could be politically marginalised also during the next government period. This also raises questions about democratic politics as a means for addressing long-standing grievances regarding federalism and ethnic self-determination. Ethnic representation and influence are also thus closely linked to the question of continuation or resolution of armed conflicts in ethnic states. The talk will review the election results with focus on ethnic representation, and discuss their implications for democratisation and peace in Myanmar.

Kristian Stokke, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Oslo, Norway. His research focuses on democratisation, peace and civil society in South and Southeast Asia, with special focus on Myanmar’s democratic opening, political parties and ethnic politics since 2010.

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