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Moderating polarised positions on questions of national identity and sovereignty: deliberative surveys on federalism in Myanmar

journal contribution
posted on 01.03.2020, 00:00 authored by M G Breen, Baogang HeBaogang He
Myanmar is in an important phase of its political transition. The opportunity for substantive federal reform, which is central to peacebuilding and democratisation, is present and being progressed through parallel elite level forums. However, these elite negotiations have serious limitations, as they fail to reach out to citizens, and contribute to polarisation and the perpetuation of extreme views regarding federalism. To address the absence of public deliberation on federalism in Myanmar, we organised five deliberative events based on the Deliberative Polling® methodology. This paper discusses some of the key findings and demonstrates how they can contribute to federal constitutional reform in Myanmar. It shows that when debating fundamental issues relating to identity and national sovereignty, public deliberation has moderation effects even in conflict-ridden deeply divided societies. Indeed, questions that related to the institutions associated with identity and religion had the highest quality of deliberation, opinion change and moderation. These more moderate and considered deliberated perspectives are of great value for dealing with the polarisation issue that Myanmar faces and demonstrate the potential of deliberative democracy tools to supplement and moderate electoral democracy and elite-driven constitutional change processes.

History

Journal

International area studies review

Volume

23

Issue

1

Pagination

93 - 113

Publisher

Sage

Location

London, Eng.

ISSN

2233-8659

eISSN

2049-1123

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal