RANGOON — Nine of Burma’s major political parties all purport to work for a democratic federal union, peace and ethnic unity, while they are split on issues such as the Constitution and governance, according to analysis released by an independent local research group earlier this week.
Enlightened Myanmar Research (EMR) released a briefing, “The Manifestos of Major Political Parties,” on Tuesday analyzing the political platforms of nine parties which had filed at least 100 candidates to contest the Nov. 8 poll.
The group’s analysis centered on the Kayin People’s Party (KPP), Myanmar Farmers Development Party (MFDP), National Democratic Force (NDF), National Development Party (NDP), National League for Democracy (NLD), National Unity Party (NUP), Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) and the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
EMR said it aimed to concisely summarize the different platforms of the major parties, according to their publically released manifestos or other public pronouncements. The group also aims to carry out further research on how the party’s candidates perform should they be elected to the country’s next Parliament.
Among the nine parties analyzed, only three publicly released manifestos. Researchers gleaned policy information directly from the SNLD, SNDP and NDP, while the other party’s platforms were reviewed via their televised speeches.
EMR grouped the parties’ policy platforms into three sections: political, social and economic.
The NLD, SNLD, NDF, NUP and NDP all referenced amending the 2008 Constitution, while the USDP spoke of continuing negotiations on the matter. The former five parties also contended they would seek to strengthen the judicial system, the Parliament and the rule of law, with particular attention to the rights of ethnic nationalities, EMR’s research found.
All parties emphasize building ethnic unity and peace through political dialogue—with ample references to the “Panglong spirit.” While the NUP references decentralization to empower states and divisions, the NLD emphasizes reducing the number of ministries for more effective governance, the report said.
In the economic realm, the report found all parties highlighted the agricultural sector as the lynchpin of the country’s economy, with various promises to tackle land confiscation, guarantee land ownership and abolish outdated land-related laws.
The NUP, SNDP, NLD and NDP all specifically referenced strengthening workers’ rights, reducing joblessness, workplace safety and meeting standards set by the ILO, the report said.
On social policy, all parties pledged to increase the state’s budget for education and build education standards, while the NLD, SNDP and SNLD highlighted preserving ethnic literature and culture. On health, EMR said all parties spoke of implementing equal access to affordable health care in rural and urban areas.
NDF, USDP, NLD and NUP were the only parties to pledge equal opportunities for women and the protection of women’s rights.
Having grappled with the difficult task of discerning the major party’s political platforms ahead of the Nov. 8 poll, EMR recommended that all Burma’s political parties should release policy manifestos to voters and clearly state “their electoral promises, as [we] have only seen general facts.”