September 19, 2016

The trust gap that needs bridging

Political analysts in Myanmar often assert that the political parties and their party system are central to the effective function and eventual consolidation of democracy. According to their beliefs, there is a trust gap in mass attitudes towards the ruling party and the opposition party. And their belief is assumed to have been based on the 2015 election results, which indicate that the overwhelming majority of the people lack trust in the current major opposition party. This is, in fact, not a good sign for democracy, which requires the balance of power.
In this regard, it is worth noting that the mother-like public figure is said to have told a top leader of the opposition party to strengthen the latter’s party through drastic reform, because her party needs competition. As known to all, perfect competition, in an ideal democracy, is necessary. Political competition plays a crucial role in the democratic cycle, be it as a possible mainspring of political participation or as the essential element of democratic accountability and responsiveness. Thus, it is quite obvious that opposition plays an important role, holding the ruling party accountable and responsive.
Nevertheless, it is also of utmost importance for the opposition to make constructive criticism and have a positive approach in addition to harboring the correct attitude, not bent upon attacking the government. Such actions, activities and attitudes will only be counterproductive and they can widen the trust gap in people’s attitudes towards the ruling party and the opposition. Such being the case, the opposition should build confidence through structural reformation and changing the mindset of the members of the party organizations at all levels. It will take time, as people naturally resist change, merely wishing to maintain the status quo. Short-term change management courses or sessions are recommended along with recruitment of good and able party members, young and old. One important piece of advice is not to bother with seniority in membership or age in assigning of duties. What counts is not the seniority but the ability, loyalty, sincerity, honesty and efficiency.


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