Burma’s Checklist for a Bogus Election

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


On Sunday, Burma’s ironically named military dictatorship, the State Peace and Development Council, is holding the country’s first elections in 20 years. Pretty much every Western government, including ours, has written them off as a sham; from the moment they were scheduled, it was clear the race was fixed. Here’s an update, along with some new bad news, about how thoroughly a junta can shit on the democratic process.

  • Shut down the Internet. Slowdowns and interruptions have been reported all week. Now The Irrawaddy, the most prominent exile site and best place for getting inside info from the notoriously cloistered country, has been cyberattacked to death—again.
  • Don’t let reporters in. So info can’t get out via outsiders, either.
  • Form a political party loaded with military men who’ve stepped down so they can run as civilians. Even though you’ve also already set aside 25 percent of legislative seats for active military men. 
  • Hold mandatory village meetings where your political party shows people the correct way to vote (for them). Yeah, that really happened.

Those are some of the reasons a lot of people in Burma just won’t vote. At this point, it appears the best-case scenario is that the same bad men who rain human rights abuses all over their country will remain in power. But that’s still better than the worst-case scenario: Some worry that Burma’s government will use the new shroud of democracy to intensify its evil campaigns. The real question right now is whether those grim prospects will lead to massive protests this weekend, like 2007’s Saffron Revolution

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate