What we did: We provided capacity development for political parties, electoral management bodies (EMBs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) in Myanmar.

What we achieved: Prior to the February 2021 coup, political parties, EMBs and CSOs in Myanmar improved their procedures for carrying out their work in a more democratic and effective way.

Who we did it with: Union Election Commission and partners: Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD), Democracy Reporting International (DRI) and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD)/Demo Finland, Scholar Institute, Paññā Institute and BadeiDha Moe CSO

Impact area: Electoral Processes 

Donor: European Union 

Project name: Support to Electoral Processes and Democracy (STEP Democracy) 

Award period: 1 August 2018 to 31 July 2021

Boundary partners: Political parties, EMBs and CSOs


Myanmar’s democratic ambitions were halted on 1 February last year by a military coup that overturned the November 2020 general election, which had seen more than 70 per cent of voters going to the polls. 

Election observers had found that voters were largely able to freely express their will at the polls. Although hundreds of thousands of voters were excluded by conflict or discriminatory practices, there can be no doubt about the legitimacy of the outcome and the democratic choice of the people of Myanmar.

The coup put an end to this, and to the European Union-funded Support to Electoral Processes and Democracy (STEP Democracy) programme being conducted by International IDEA and other implementing partners. The programme had been gaining traction, creating sustainable networks of key democratic actors, such as the Union Election Commission (UEC), CSOs and political parties.

It was transferring knowledge of democratic values to citizens and voters—all of which will support Myanmar’s legitimate democratic actors and the future restoration of democracy in the country.

The programme enabled the creation of the Myanmar Fellowship network of young voters, which held online talk shows to increase voter awareness and knowledge of voting procedures ahead of the 2020 general election. The UEC prioritized inclusive voter education, producing and distributing 73,500 UEC booklets and 315,000 pamphlets with key information on voting and election procedures, including encouraging people with disabilities to vote. 

Through capacity development activities in support of political parties, the programme also successfully increased women politicians’ capacities to advocate for their inclusion in political party structures, to define policies and strengthen their campaign management skills. These efforts have contributed to nine out of 20 supported parties increasing the number of nominated women candidates in 2020. Overall, 20 out of 37 political parties supported by the programme established quotas for women. In the 2020 general elections, there were 106 more women candidates than in 2015. Myanmar saw a positive increase from 150 women (13 per cent) elected in 2015 to 194 women (17 per cent) elected in 2020.