Liberalism and illiberalism in Myanmar’s national league for democracy

Roman DAVID*, Aung Kaung MYAT, Ian HOLLIDAY

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


The National League for Democracy (NLD) was largely synonymous with Myanmar’s semi-democratic intermezzo in 2016–21. For 2 years after the military coup in 2021, it resumed the role of major opposition party performed from 1988 to 2015. Although it was dissolved by the military junta in 2023, it remains a dominant political force inside the country. This article examines the commitment of NLD leaders and voters to liberal agendas. It reviews existing literature, draws on our dataset of Facebook posts by NLD members of parliament, analyses our 2017 survey, and triangulates it with 2020 World Values Survey data. It argues that the NLD was a relatively liberal force in Myanmar’s democratisation in the 2010s, though its liberal commitments were coupled with rising illiberal values. It is thus possible that even if the NLD were reconstituted and re-elected under a future democratic settlement, that democracy would not be liberal.
Original languageEnglish
JournalParty Politics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research has been supported by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (GRF 340613 (131044)) and by the Direct Grant of Lingnan University (DR23C3, Social and Political Impacts of Myanmar's 2021 Military Coup).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • liberalism
  • members of parliament
  • Myanmar
  • national league for democracy
  • opinion survey


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