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Economy, Not Election, Troubled Myanmar Before Coup

Economy, Not Election, Troubled Myanmar Before Coup

Story Highlights

  • 82% in Myanmar were confident in the honesty of their country's elections
  • 80% said it was a bad time to find a job in their local area
  • 40% reported that their local economy was getting worse

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While Myanmar's military says massive voter fraud in the November elections forced it to stage a coup this week, most voters in Myanmar were highly confident in the honesty of their country's elections in 2020. More than eight in 10 adults in Myanmar (82%) surveyed between October and December -- overlapping the Nov. 8 election -- said they were confident in the honesty of elections in their country.

Line graph. Confidence in the honesty of elections by Myanmar residents remained high prior to the recent military coup, with 82% say they had confidence in the honesty of elections.

This level of confidence in Myanmar's elections is fairly typical for the levels measured over the past several years. Faith in the honesty of elections peaked at 92% in 2016, after the 2015 election that brought now-detained Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) political party into power.

Myanmar transitioned from complete military rule in 2012, though 25% of the seats in the country's Parliament are still appointed by the military. The NLD won 83% of the seats in the Nov. 8 general election, which the military alleges was the result of electoral fraud.

Military Loses Popular Support Ahead of Coup

People's confidence in their national government remained steady at the time of the survey, with 85% of Myanmar residents expressing faith in their government, unchanged from 2019. The job approval rating of then-President Win Myint, who was arrested during the coup and detained, was similarly high at 81%.

However, while still at the majority level, confidence in the military notably slipped to a low of 65% in 2020. This dip in approval may not bode well for military leadership as it continues to tighten its grip on the country, including new lockdowns on the internet and news services.

Line graph. Confidence among Myanmar residents in their national government held steady at 85% prior to the military coup. However, confidence in the military fell to 65% in 2020, down from 80% in 2019.

Public Mood Darkens on Economy

Like the rest of the globe, Myanmar's economy has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns to control the spread of the disease. The government has attempted to cushion the blow by providing assistance to the population. However, a high of 80% of residents in 2020 said it was a bad time to find a job in their local area.

Line graph. 80% of Myanmar residents now say it is bad time to find a job in the area where they live, up from 50% in 2019.

In their broader assessments of the trajectory of their local economy, Myanmar residents also turned more pessimistic in 2020. Four in 10 residents said their local economy was getting worse, the highest level in Gallup's trend. At the same time, the percentage saying their local economy was getting better, 41%, is the second-lowest point in the trend.

Line graph. 40% of Myanmar residents now say their local economy is getting worse, up from 25% in 2019. Alternatively, 41% say the local economy is getting better, down from 53% in 2019.

In 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, data collection in Myanmar switched from in-person interviewing to via telephone.

Bottom Line

Before the military coup, levels of confidence in elections and the national government were steady in Myanmar. However, confidence in the country's military had dropped. Residents registered substantially more concern about their economic conditions.

Controlling the pandemic in Myanmar and addressing the country's economic woes will likely prove key to any effort by the military to retain power through the "state of emergency," which it declared as part of the coup. However, the population may be particularly vulnerable to international sanctions that the U.S. is currently considering.

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

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