- 94% in Myanmar approve of new leader, Aung San Suu Kyi
- 83% are confident in the military
- 70% approve of U.S. leadership
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Less than a year after Myanmar's landmark elections ended decades of military rule, residents are highly enthusiastic about their country's leadership. Myanmar's new civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is visiting the U.S. this week for the first time since her government took office, earns a 94% approval rating among the country's residents in 2016.
|Approve of Aung San Suu Kyi||94%|
|Confident in the national government||92%|
|Confident in the military||83%|
|Confident in the judicial system||67%|
|Gallup World Poll, 2016|
In November 2015, Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, won the first freely held elections in Myanmar since 1990. The party won just under 80% of the seats available, giving them a majority in both houses. The country's constitution bans Suu Kyi from serving as president, but she acts as the de facto leader of the government.
In addition to their high level of approval of Suu Kyi, Myanmar residents now report relatively high levels of confidence in national institutions -- 67% are confident in their judicial system, and 92% are confident in their national government. More than eight in 10 residents (83%) have confidence in the military, which retains 25% of parliamentary seats automatically as part of the 2008 army-drafted constitution.
Approval of U.S. Leadership
When Suu Kyi visited the U.S. in 2012, most Myanmar residents had no opinion about U.S. leadership. In fact, until this year, the majority of Myanmar residents had no opinion of the leadership of the U.S. This at least partly reflects how the country was closed to the outside world for many decades under the previous military regime.
Before President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the country in 2012, as many as 67% of Myanmar residents didn't know whether they approved or disapproved of U.S. leadership. Since then, residents have formed a stronger opinion of U.S. leadership, and it's a highly positive one. In 2016, 70% of residents approved of U.S. leadership, higher than the approval rating of China (35%), Russia (38%) or Japan (52%).
While it will be difficult for Suu Kyi to maintain such high approval ratings in the long run, she wields significant influence in shaping the country for now. When Suu Kyi visits Washington, D.C., this week, she will consult with Obama on how much to ease economic sanctions, which were originally imposed to pressure Myanmar's military-run authoritarian government on political reform. The Obama administration will need to balance concerns about the military's role in politics while encouraging economic development and trade in the largely untapped and resource-rich Myanmar economy.
Myanmar residents would likely welcome the opportunity to do more business with a popular partner such as the U.S. Nearly eight in 10 Myanmar residents (79%) say that increased trade between Myanmar and other countries would help its workforce, and more than seven in 10 (71%) say that the greater availability of products and goods from other countries would be a good thing.
Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,020 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted from May 12-29, 2016, in Myanmar. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
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