A new arena awaits as Myanmar warms up for 2020 polls

The parties, voters and issues have undergone major changes since the last elections even if Aung San Suu Kyi remains the anchor of her party's campaign

Rohingya refugees at a ceremony last month at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, that was organised to remember the second anniversary of a military crackdown that prompted a massive exodus of people from Myanmar. Younger voters have been soc
Rohingya refugees at a ceremony last month at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, that was organised to remember the second anniversary of a military crackdown that prompted a massive exodus of people from Myanmar. Younger voters have been socialised in a period where Myanmar has moved from becoming a beacon of democracy to a serious human rights violator, says the writer.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

While the election campaign has not officially started, it is clear that there is a reorientation in Myanmar politics towards next year's polls. The National League for Democracy (NLD), the military-aligned Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and ethnic parties are already developing their campaign strategies and ratcheting up their political engagement.

Myanmar's 2020 polls will be markedly different from the historic 2015 transition elections. The campaign, political parties and forms of mobilisation are changing as the country grapples with working in a more open, contentious political system.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2019, with the headline 'A new arena awaits as Myanmar warms up for 2020 polls'. Subscribe