Myanmar in Light of the Upcoming Elections

Expert-Roundtable with the German Ambassador to Myanmar Christian-Ludwig Weber-Lortsch

On August 24, 2015, the German Ambassador to Myanmar Christian-Ludwig Lortsch was guest at an expert-roundtable, organized by the Westerwelle Foundation and the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. Together with representatives from the business sector, civil society, science and politics the Ambassador discussed the situation in Myanmar regarding the upcoming elections.
The Ambassador gave insight into the current social and economic development and a personal assessment of the political and societal challenges the country is facing concerning the upcoming elections. He also outlined a possible role Europe could play in the future transformational process.

In the following the experts discussed the progress of reform Mynamar is undergoing, concluding that the reform process has not failed but, given the many obstacles, needed to be seen as a slowly developing process, which calls for “strategical patience”, as the conflicts within the government’s party exemplarily showed.

Nevertheless, the experts are optimistic that the elections will take place as planned, on November 8, 2015. In opinion of the discussants, there is a high probability that the opposition party NDL, led by Aung San Suu Kyis, ought to win a majority of the votes and seats in parliament. But it remained uncertain what kind of impact a victory of the opposition would have on the process of democratization in the country.

Europe’s influence respectively the European Union’s influence in Myanmar is still limited, the experts agreed. China still remained the most important partner of Myanmar, especially in business. In order to strengthen Europe’s role in Myanmar it would become necessary to build a political profile and to become more present in the country.