Covering Burma’s Historic Election

FP's Rebecca Frankel and Ilya Lozovsky talk to Christian Caryl about campaign rallies, voters who are betting on hope and change, and Aung San Suu Kyi.


Democracy Lab‘s Christian Caryl is in Rangoon, officially known as Yangon, there to report on what is, for many reasons, going to be a historic national election. After decades of military dictatorship, this will be the first time in a generation, as Caryl writes, “that the Burmese have had a chance to participate in a competitive nationwide vote, and it’s no exaggeration to say that people here are in the grip of election fever.”

With some 6,000 candidates fighting for 664 seats in the national parliament, the beloved and controversial Aung San Suu Kyi — also known as “The Lady” — is the revered favorite, and expectations are high that she will lead her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), to a landslide victory.

In this episode of The Backstory, Caryl talks about how much Burma, whose official name is Myanmar, has changed in the past four years, what Burmese voters in urban and rural areas actually care about most, and the one crucial thing that Westerners always forget about Aung San Suu Kyi.

Subscribe to The Backstory podcast and other FP podcasts on iTunes here.

Rebecca Frankel was formerly the executive editor of Foreign Policy’s print magazine. She is the author of War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love, a New York Times bestselling book about canines in combat. She has appeared as a guest on Conan, BBC World News, and the Diane Rehm Show, among others. In 2016, she adopted Dyngo, a military working dog who is now happily retired from his bomb-sniffing career in the Air Force. @becksfrankel

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