2010 ELECTIONS IN MYANMAR

2010 ELECTIONS IN MYANMAR

A general election was held in Myanmar on November 7, 2010, in accordance with the new constitution which was approved in a referendum held in May 2008. The date of the election, was announced by the SPDC August. The general election was the fifth step of the seven-step "roadmap to democracy" proposed by Myanmar’s military regime (the State Peace and Development Council, SPDC) in 2003, the sixth and seventh steps being the convening of Myanmar’s parliament and establishment of democratic nation. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) boycotted the election. The United Nations and Western countries condemned the elections as fraudulent.

The election was the first held in the former Burma since 1990, when the NLD won a multi-party vote rejected by the military.Thirty-seven parties contested places in the bicameral national parliament and 14 regional assemblies. A total of 498 seats in both houses of parliament were up for grabs in the 2010 election. A 224-member House of Nationalities has 168 elected candidates and 56 nominated by the military chief, while the 440-member House of Representatives has 330 elected civilians and 110 military representatives.

The elections themselves were deeply flawed. Jared Genser wrote in the Los Angeles Times, Suu Kyi and her more than 2,000 fellow political prisoners were prohibited from being candidates for office. The cost to register as a candidate exceeded the country's annual per capita GDP, and most attempting to register were turned down. As a kind of olive branch to the world, intended to quiet condemnation of the elections, the junta freed Aung San Suu Kyi on November 13, six days after the balloting was over.[Source: Jared Genser, Los Angeles Times, October 25, 2010]

Joshua Hammer wrote in The New Yorker, “The regime-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party handily won the November 7th elections through the manipulation of “advance votes”—ballots that had been distributed early to the sick and to those whose travel and work schedules prevented them from going to the polls on Election Day. The U.S.D.P. gained control of nearly eighty per cent of the seats in the new Parliament. [Source: Joshua Hammer, The New Yorker, January 24, 2011]

Background of the 2010 General Elections

The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) had set a number of conditions for participating in the poll, including changes to the constitution to reduce the army's influence, international supervision for free and fair polls, and freeing all political prisoners including Suu Kyi. Senior General Than Shwe, leader of the ruling military junta, pledged to release political prisoners in an amnesty before the election. The NLD later announced they would not take part in the election due to the election laws.

Only 330 seats were contested as a quarter of the 440 parliament seats were reserved for military officials. People holding military positions were not permitted to contest the election. Twenty members of the junta, including Prime Minister Thein Sein, retired from their posts to participate in the election.

When the government announced that the elections would be held in 2010, Aung Hla Tun of Reuters reported: “People in Myanmar welcomed the military government's promise of multi-party elections in 2010 as an opportunity to be seized, despite deep skepticism from opposition politicians and abroad. "Just get on whatever horse you can catch. Then try to find better ones gradually," a retired professor said. Roadside food vendor Aung Min, 28, was positively excited. "I can't wait to vote in an election," he said. But, he added: "The most important is all major parties should be allowed to run in it." [Source: Aung Hla Tun. Reuters, February 10, 2008 /\]

"We have achieved success in economic, social and other sectors and in restoring peace and stability," said the statement issued in the name of Secretary Number One Lieutenant-General Tin Aung Myint Oo, a top member of the junta. "So multi-party, democratic elections will be held in 2010." The NLD was skeptical, asking how the junta could set an election date before knowing the outcome of referendum scheduled in May a had to be approved before elctiosn could go forward. "I can't help but wonder how the referendum will be conducted," NLD spokesman Nyan Win said. The Burma Campaign UK, a pro-democracy group, dismissed the announcement as "public relations spin" and "nothing to do with democracy." /\

“But people in Yangon felt it was a positive development in a country that has seen little of those over the decades. "It's just like finding somewhere to live for the homeless. Of course it isn't the house of our choice, but it will give us some protection," a retired government officer said. "We can expect at least a coalition government. That's far better than now," he added. The retired professor said the NLD, which boycotted a national convention working out the principles for a "disciplined" democracy completed late in 2007 after 14 years, should run in the election. "If they boycott the election, we will have to wait another three or four decades in deadlock," he said. /\

Myanmar turned down offers from both ASEAN and the United Nations to send election observers insisting it had plenty of experience with elections. At an ASEAN meeting in October 2009. Myanmar's foreign minister promised his country would hold "free and fair" elections. "In my country free and fair elections will be held. We have already announced it," Myanmar foreign minister Nyan Win told reporters. "(Whether) the elections are free and fair or not, so far no one can judge it. After the elections will be held, you can judge whether the elections are free and fair or not." [Source: AFP, October 3, 2009]

Election Law Bars Aung San Suu Kyi from Running in the 2010 Election

The United Nations, members of ASEAN and Western nations insisted that the 2010 parliamentary elections would not be credible unless Aung San Suu Kyi participated. Article 59F of the new constitution bans people who are married to foreign citizens from the Presidency. Some people claimed that this meant Aung San Suu Kyi was unable to run since she was married to a British citizen but since her husband was dead and she was no longer married to a foreigner it seemed to follow that she could not be barred on this basis. In August 2009, Suu Kyi was sentenced to house arrest for 18 months over a trespass incident and was not released until after the election was over. Another law banned anyone serving a prison term from belonging to a political party.

Associated Press reported: A new election law issued by Burma's ruling military has barred pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from joining a political party and thus running in upcoming elections, state-run newspapers said. The Political Parties Registration Law, published in official newspapers, excludes anyone convicted by a court of law from participating in the elections. Suu Kyi was convicted by a court in August 2009 of violating the terms of her house arrest. [Source: Associated Press, March 10, 2010 \/]

“Parties were also instructed to expel members who are “not in conformity with the qualification to be members of a party,” a clause that could force Ms. Suu Kyi’s expulsion. Parties that don’t register automatically cease to exist, the law says. Ms. Suu Kyi’s lawyer and a senior party member, Nyan Win, said the new law also bars people who have lodged an appeal against a conviction, which he said “clearly refers” to Ms. Suu Kyi. He declined to comment further, saying party members need to discuss the legislation first. \/

“It is very unfair that a party member serving a prison term for his or her political convictions has to be expelled from the party. This clause amounts to interfering in party internal affairs,” said Aung Thein, a lawyer who has defended activists in the country. He said the provision would exclude many pro-democracy individuals who have been imprisoned for their beliefs. Human rights groups say the junta has jailed about 2,100 political prisoners. \/

It was widely assumed that Ms. Suu Kyi would be shut out since a provision in the Constitution bars anyone with foreign ties from taking part in elections. Ms. Suu Kyi’s now-deceased husband was British, her two sons have British citizenship, and she has been described by the junta as enjoying special links with Britain. \/

New Election Laws Before the 2010 Election

The first of five election laws was announced in March 2010, concerning the creation of an election commission. The Union Election Commission Law states that the military government will appoint all members of the commission and have the final say over the election results. Members of the commission must be "an eminent person, to have integrity and experience, to be loyal to the state and its citizens". A 17-member election commission was later named, headed by a former military officer. [Source: Wikipedia +]

The second law bans anyone currently serving a prison term from belonging to a political party, and therefore over 2,000 political prisoners will not be able to participate. The Political Parties Registration Law also bars members of religious orders, members of insurgent groups 'as defined by the state' and foreigners from joining political parties. +

The election law said that political parties had 60 days to register with the Election Committee, whose members are to be appointed by the junta, after the law was enacted in March 2010. Parties were required to have at least 1,000 members to participate in the 2010 election. Existing parties had to register by May 6. There was no registration deadline for new political parties.

The other laws stipulate that anyone currently serving a prison term is barred from voting in the elections for the upper and lower houses. At the same time, the results of the 1990 elections were annulled as they did not comply with the new election laws. The new laws have been described as a "farce" by the Philippines and a "mockery" by the United States.

Political Parties and the Elections in 2010

Forty parties were approved by the Electoral Commission to contest the November 2010 elections. Some of them were linked to ethnic minorities. Reuters estimated that six parties in total were allied to the government.

The Union Solidarity and Development party is linked with Myanmar’s ruling junta. Formally registered as a party in April 2010, it is head by Myanmar’s president Thein Sein, who resigned from military post when the party was registered. The Union Solidarity and Development Party was the successor to the mass organization Union Solidarity and Development Association, which claims to have around half the population as members.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), which overwhelmingly won the previous 1990 elections but were never allowed to take power, decided not to participate. Nonetheless, some senior members have formed the National Democratic Force to contest the elections, claiming that a boycott would play into the hands of the government. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Other parties included: 1) The National Unity Party, which contested the 1990 election as the main pro-government party and won 10 seats, has also registered to run; 2) The new Democratic Party, established by Mya Than Than Nu, the daughter of former Prime Minister of Burma, U Nu and Nay Ye Ba Swe, the daughter of former Prime Minister Ba Swe. +

Ethnic parties included: 1) a new party formed by members of a ceasefire group (Mon National Democratic Front, MNDF) and a party that won seats in the 1990 elections (the New Mon State Party, NMSP); and 2) The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, a Shan political party that came second in the 1990 election was participating in the election as the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party; 3) Lahu National Development Party (LNDP); 4) Kokang Democracy and Unity Party (KDUP); 5) Pa-Oh National Organisation (PNO); 6) Democratic Party (Burma) (DPM); ) Kayan National Party (KNP); 7) Rakhine State National Force of Myanmar (RSNF); ) Kayin People's Party (KPP); 8) Wa National Unity Party (WNUP); 9) Union of Karen/Kayin League (UKL); 10) Taaung (Palaung) National Party (TPNP); 11) Chin Progressive Party (CPP); 12) Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP); 13) Wa Democratic Party (WDP); 14) Unity and Democracy Party of Kachin State (UDPKS). +

Contesting political parties; 1) Mro or Khami National Solidarity Organization (MKNSO); 2) National Unity Party (NUP); 3) Lahu National Development Party (LNDP); 4) Kokang Democracy and Unity Party (KDUP); 5) Pa-Oh National Organisation (PNO); 6) Democratic Party (Burma) (DPM); 7) Kayan National Party (KNP); 8) Rakhine State National Force of Myanmar (RSNF); 9) Kayin People's Party (KPP); 10) Wa National Unity Party (WNUP); 11) Union of Karen/Kayin League (UKL); 12) Taaung (Palaung) National Party (TPNP); 13) All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMRDP); 14) Democracy and Peace Party (DPP); 15) Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP); 16) United Democratic Party (United DP); 17) 888 Generation Student Youths (Union of Myanmar, 8GSY); 18) Union of Myanmar Federation of National Politics (UMNPF); 19) National Political Alliances League (NPAL); 20) Democratic Party for Myanmar New Society (DPMNS); 21) Chin National Party (CNP); 22) Wuntharnu NLD (Union of Myanmar, WNLD); 23) Modern People Party (MPP); 24) Union Democratic Party (UnionDP); 25) Peace and Diversity Party (PDP);26) Chin Progressive Party (CPP); 27) Inn National Progressive Party (INPP); 28) Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP); 29) Wa Democratic Party (WDP); 30) Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party (PSDP); 31) National Democratic Party for Development (NDPD); 32) Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP); 33) Ethnic National Development Party (ENDP); 34) Myanmar Democracy Congress (MDC); 35) Mro National Party (MNP); 36) Kaman National Progressive Party (KNPP); 37) Khami National Development Party (KNDP); 38) National Democratic Force (NDF); 39) Regional Development Party (Pyay, RDPP); 40) Unity and Democracy Party of Kachin State (UDPKS). +

National League of Democracy (NLD) Boycotts Election After Being Forced to Dissolve

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy (NLD) was dissolved before the November 2010 election under a controversial law that required it to oust Aung San Suu Kyi in order to participate in the elections. The party It was automatically disbanded for failing to register for the polls by a May 6 deadline. The NLD filed petitions to annul the election law but to no avail. Suu Kyi was not allowed to participate in the election.

In March 2010, AFP reported: “The opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi said it would boycott the November 2010 polls after the country’s military rulers introduced a controversial new election law. The National League For Democracy decided at a party meeting to refuse to register for the first polls to be held in two decades, a move that would have forced it to oust its detained leader and recognise the junta’s constitution. But the NLD now faces dissolution in less than six weeks for failing to register, according to the new legislation. [Source: AFP, March 30, 2010 <<>>]

‘‘The National League for Democracy has decided not to register the party,’’ party spokesman Nyan Win said after a meeting of more than 100 senior members at NLD headquarters in the economic hub Rangoon. Under the internationally criticised election legislation, if the party had decided to sign up for the vote it would have been forced to part with Ms Suu Kyi because she is serving a prison term. Burma’s election legislation nullifies the result of the last polls held in 1990 that were won by the NLD by a landslide but never recognised by the junta. If the party had registered it would have been forced to recognise that decision. Suu Kyi said she would never accept her party registering because the laws are ‘‘unjust’’. But she said the party should decide ‘‘democratically’’, according to Nyan Win, who is also Ms Suu Kyi’s lawyer. <<>>

Ahead of the party decision, Nyan Win had signalled his personal opposition to signing up for the vote. ‘‘If we register, it would mean the NLD is doing everything the junta asks it to do. The NLD is working for free democracy. So we cannot accept what the government is asking,’’ he said. Burma political analyst and pro-democracy activist Win Min said the party — which Ms Suu Kyi helped found in 1988 after a popular uprising against the military government — would now essentially disappear. ‘‘The party, under its current name, might not officially exist after the May 6 deadline,’’ Ms Win Min said. ‘‘It was very hard for the NLD members to exclude her because she is a very influential figure in the party and in the country.’’ In all, 115 party representatives attended the meeting as dozens of rank-and-file members gathered outside amid tight security, some wearing white tops bearing the slogan: We believe Aung San Suu Kyi. ‘‘We have sacrificed our life for 20 years and finally we have to give up like this. So you can imagine how we feel in our hearts,’’ said Nann Khin Htwe Mying, a senior NLD member who arrived for the talks from eastern Karen state. <<>>

Some senior members of the NLD formed the National Democratic Force to contest the elections, claiming that a boycott would play into the hands of the government. Associated Press reported: “A new party formed by renegade members of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's disbanded party has received a permit to participate in Myanmar's first elections in two decades, state media reported. The National Democratic Force will join other new political parties and five existing groups in contesting the elections, the state-run Myanma Ahlin newspaper reported. [Source: AP, July 10, 2010 +++]

“Suu Kyi has expressed dissatisfaction through her lawyer over the formation of the new breakaway party, led by Khin Maung Swe. Members of her disbanded party have accused the National Democratic Force of stealing their party symbol, a bamboo hat, in order to win votes. Khin Maung Swe said the NDF's symbol is not the same because it has two stars above the hat. He said the party will continue the "struggle for democracy," but gave no further policy details.

Voting in Myanmar’s 2010 Elections

On the voting during Myanmar’s 2010 parliamentary elections,Tim Johnston wrote in The Financial Times, “The Burmese voted for the first time in 20 years...There was little evidence of enthusiasm among voters for a deeply flawed process that critics say is designed to entrench the military's 48-year grip on power. Several Rangoon residents said it felt like a normal Sunday in the city, only quieter. "You would have expected that had the campaign been run in a proper free and fair way, there would be a real sense of anticipation and excitement on the ground," said Andrew Heyn, the British ambassador in Rangoon, who visited polling stations Sunday morning. "The reality is that we are not seeing that at all," Heyn said. "There is a sense that people are going through the motions of the process with a presumption that the outcome is predetermined." [Source: Tim Johnston, Financial Times, Washington Post, November 8, 2010]

Aung San Suu Kyi declined to vote.Burmese authorities barred most international monitors and journalists. A group of diplomats invited by the government to observe the process in the central city of Mandalay was led by the North Korean ambassador. The elections have been criticized by the United States and the international community. "The elections were based on a fundamentally flawed process and demonstrated the regime's continued preference for repression and restriction over inclusion and transparency," President Obama told an audience in India.

NBC News, AP and Reuters reported: “Myanmar held its first election in 20 years under tight security, a scripted vote that assures army-backed parties an easy win but brings a hint of parliamentary politics to one of Asia's most oppressed states. While it remained unclear when results would be announced — officials would only say they would come "in time" — there was little doubt that the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party would emerge with an enormous share of the parliamentary seats, despite widespread popular opposition to 48 years of military rule. [Source: NBC News, AP, Reuters, November 7, 2010 **]

“Low turnout and fraud charges marred voting nationwide. Many doubted their ballot would alter the authoritarian status quo. Some packed Yangon's pagodas instead of voting. In Haka, capital of Chin state bordering India and Bangladesh, more people attended church than cast ballots, witnesses said. "We're falling asleep," said a polling station official in Bahan Township in the commercial capital Yangon. "Ward officials are still urging the people to vote." Many voters said they simply wanted to cast their votes against the junta's politicians. "I cannot stay home and do nothing," said Yi Yi, a 45-year-old computer technician in Yangon, the country's largest city. "I have to go out and vote against USDP. That's how I will defy them (the junta)." **

“Armed riot police stood guard at polling booths or patrolled streets in military trucks in Yangon, part of a security clampdown that includes bans on foreign media and outside election monitors, and a tightening in state censorship. The Internet was barely functioning, hit by repeated failures widely believed to have been orchestrated by the junta to control information. Power failures also hampered early turnout. Suu Kyi urged a boycott of this poll, saying she "would not dream" of taking part.” **

The junta's political juggernaut, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), is fielding 27 incumbent ministers. Closely aligned with supreme leader Senior General Than Shwe, it is top-heavy with recently retired generals. It is contesting all the estimated 1,158 seats up for grabs. Its only real rival, the National Unity Party (NUP), is also backed by the army and running in 980 seats.

Obstacles for the Opposition and Voting Irregularities in Myanmar’s 2010 Elections

Tim Johnston wrote in The Financial Times, “ Opposition parties have struggled to overcome a series of constitutional and regulatory hurdles to get to Sunday's vote. Although there have been rumors of irregularities elsewhere in the country, observers said there was little sign of overt intimidation Sunday to vote for the pro-junta parties in Rangoon. The opposition, cowed by years of repression and hampered by exorbitant registration fees and other regulatory hindrances, was able to field candidates in less than half the available constituencies. The National Democratic Force fielded candidates in just 159 of the 1,157 constituencies. [Source: Tim Johnston, Financial Times, Washington Post, November 8, 2010]

NBC News, AP and Reuters reported: “Election rules were clearly written to benefit the USDP, with hundreds of potential opposition candidates — including pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi— under house arrest or in prison. Many other potential candidates in the poverty-wracked nation were simply unable to raise the $500 registration fee. Thirty-seven parties are contesting places in a bicameral national parliament and 14 regional assemblies. Except for the USDP and NUP, none has enough candidates to win any real stake due to restrictions such as high fees for each candidate. [Source: NBC News, AP, Reuters, November 7, 2010 **]

“But even with a predictable outcome, the army appears to be taking no chances. At least six parties lodged complaints with the election commission, claiming state workers were forced to vote for the USDP in advance balloting. In Yangon, many voters turned up to vote only to find their names not on electoral rolls, said Zaw Aye Maung, a candidate for the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, the second-largest of 22 ethnic-based parties. Hundreds of Rohingyas, a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar, were given identification cards in Yangon and the right to vote in exchange for backing the USDP, he added. Some voters who asked officials for assistance at ballot booths were told to tick the box of the USDP, witnesses said. The National Democratic Force (NDF), the largest pro-democracy party, accused the USDP of "widespread fraud." For many people in Myanmar, the election brought little but fear. "I voted for (Suu Kyi's party) in 1990. This is my second time to vote," said a 60-year-old man in Yangon, Tin Aung, when asked which party he had voted for.He then looked around and added: "I am really scared." **

“The regime has also been criticized for its brutal treatment of ethnic minorities seeking greater autonomy. In the wake of rising tension before the election, the junta canceled voting in 3,400 villages in ethnic minority areas and has increased its military presence in the countryside. About 1.5 million of the country's 59 million people have thus been disenfranchised. Some ethnic minority groups, like the Karen, have been fighting the government since the country gained independence from Great Britain in 1948. Others, including the powerful Wa and Kachin, had forged cease-fire agreements that now appear in jeopardy amid fears that the constitution activated by the elections would quash their hopes for a federal system. "We fear an increase in violence in many parts of Burma after the election and more refugees fleeing to the border with Thailand. There will be no change, no end to suffering, for the people on the ground," said Charm Tong, an exiled activist from the Shan minority. **

AFP reported: “Opposition parties have complained about widespread reports of irregularities, particularly with advance ballots. "Officials need to take action against vote cheating," Than Nyein, chairman of the National Democratic Force (NDF), told AFP. Thu Wai, chairman of the Democratic Party, said that when people were allowed to vote freely they had supported his party. "But they have won with advance votes. We cannot do anything," he said...Clashes between government troops and ethnic minority soldiers on Monday triggered an exodus of about 20,000 people to neighbouring Thailand. At least three civilians were killed when heavy weapons fire hit the town of Myawaddy in Karen State, an official in Myanmar said. [Source: AFP, November 9 2010]

Burma: Anatomy of a Sham Election

Patrick Winn wrote in Global Post: “Burma’s first parliamentary election in two decades was beyond skewed or manipulated. By most measures, it wasn’t an election at all. Many Burmese were handed ballots pre-marked with votes for the military junta’s aligned political entity, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, according to election monitors operating secretly inside the country. Villagers said polling booths were positioned so that officials could peek at voters’ choices. By mid-morning, voting was already closed in parts of Mandalay, Burma’s second-largest city, according to monitors with the Asian Network for Free Elections Foundation. The military-run government, monitors said, explained that 100 percent of votes were already cast. “This election is a joke,” said Somsri Han-Anuntasuk, the watchdog group’s director. “There are many layers of cheating and irregularity.” [Source: Patrick Winn, Global Post, November 8, 2010 +++]

“While votes were still being counted, violence broke out today between rebels and the military as thousands of refugees fled into Thailand, the Associated Press reported. Ethnic Karen rebels reportedly seized a police station and post office Sunday in Myawaddy and at least 10 people have been wounded. Rebels had warned recently that civil war could result if the military deprives them of their rights. +++

“Barred from covering the election inside Burma, foreign journalists set up a monitoring center to share reports from candidates and monitors-in-hiding. A call from Andrew Heyn, stationed in the capital Rangoon (officially Yangon) as the United Kingdom’s Burma ambassador, suggested voters were just “going the motions of a process ... that’s predetermined.” “They’re feeling quite intimidated to vote for [military-aligned party] the USDP,” Heyn said. The ballots, he said, are numbered and traceable. “Authorities will know which ward and which areas have voted in which way.” Soldiers have warned of negative consequences in areas that vote for unfavorable parties or simply for not voting at all. +++

“In remote regions rife with anti-government guerrillas, voting was canceled outright. More than 24,000 villages — amounting to 5 percent of all eligible voters — were barred from the election, according to pro-democracy group AltSean. Citizens were also permitted to vote on behalf of family members or, in the case of local headmen, entire villages. In some areas, Somsri said, the government halfway constructed roads and bridges, agreeing to finish the sorely needed projects only if that ward voted for the military’s party. +++

On top of all this the “military will fill one-fourth of the new parliament’s seats and control key ministries. Many of the political candidates are former senior officers. The army also retains the right to shut down parliament and take control by announcing an emergency situation. +++

Results of 2010 Elections

After the voting in early November 2010 it remained unclear when results would be announced. Officials would only say they would come "in time." As of early December they still had not been announced. At that time AFP reported: Turnout in Myanmar's first election in 20 years was about 77 percent, state media in the military-ruled country reported despite muted activity seen at polling stations. More than 22 million of Myanmar's roughly 29 million eligible voters cast ballots for national candidates in the November 7 poll, according to the New Light of Myanmar, a mouthpiece for the junta. The authorities have not yet announced a final overall tally of the results, but the main army-backed party has claimed an overwhelming victory with about 80 percent of available seats. [Source: AFP, December 8, 2010 +=+]

“One quarter of the places in parliament were already reserved for the military, which together with its political proxy looks set to have a comfortable majority for passing laws and electing the president. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party was disbanded for boycotting the November 7 vote in response to rules that seemed designed to bar the Nobel Peace Prize winner from taking part.” +=+

A total of 168 of the 224 seats in the Amyotha Hluttaw (House of Nationalities) were up for election. The remaining 56 seats (25 percent) were not elected, and instead reserved for military appointees (taken from Defense Services personnel, technically called Army Representatives, AR). [Source: Wikipedia +]

Results for the Amyotha Hluttaw (Party, Seats, Net Gain/Loss, Seats percent, Votes percent, Votes, +/-): 1) Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the junta-backed party: 129, 57.59; 2) Appointed: 56, +56, 25.00, -, -, +56; 3) Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), an ethnic party: 7, 3.13, 263,678; 4) National Unity Party (NUP), a party linked with the military and former dictator Ne Win: 5, 2.23, 4,302,082; 5) National Democratic Force (NDF),formed by members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD: 4, 1.79, 1,488,543; 5) Chin Progressive Party (CPP), an ethnic party: 4, 1.79, 86,211; 6) All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMRDP), an ethnic party: 4, 1.79, 172,806; 7) Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), an ethnic party: 3, 1.33, 496,039; 8) Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party (PSDP): 3, 1.33, 77,825; 9) Chin National Party (CNP): 2, 0.89, 37,450; 10) Others, 7, 3.13. Total, 224, 100. +

A total of 330 of the 440 seats in the Pyithu Hluttaw (House of Representatives) were up for election. The remaining 110 seats (25 percent) were not elected, and instead reserved for military appointees (taken from Defense Services personnel, technically called Army Representatives (AR). +

Results for the Pyithu Hluttaw Party (Seats, Net Gain/Loss, Seats percent, Votes percent, Votes, +/-): 1) 1) Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the junta-backed party: 259, 58.86, 56.76, 11,858,125; 2) Appointed: 110, +110, 25.00, -, -, +110; 3) Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), an ethnic party: 18, 4.09, 2.44, 508,780; 4) National Unity Party (NUP), a party linked with the military and former dictator Ne Win: 12, 2.73, 19.44, 4,060,802; 5) Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), an ethnic party: 9, 2.05, 2.87, 599,008; 6) National Democratic Force (NDF), formed by members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD: 8, 1.82, 7.10, 1,483,329; 7) All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMRDP), an ethnic party: 3, 0.68, 0.80, 167,928; 8) Pa-Oh National Organisation (PNO): 3, 0.68; 9) Chin National Party (CNP): 2, 0.45, 0.17, 36,098; 10) Chin Progressive Party (CPP), an ethnic party: 2, 0.45, 0.36, 76,463; 11) Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party (PSDP): 2, 0.45, 0.39, 82,038; 12) Wa Democratic Party (WDP), an ethnic party: 2, 0.45, 0.13, 27,546; 13) Others, 10, 2.29, 9.54, 1,992,590. Total, 440, 100, 100, 20,892,707. +

AFP reported: “The Myanmar military's political proxy claimed an overwhelming victory. "We have won about 80 percent of the seats. We are glad," said a senior USDP member who did not want to be named. The vote appeared to have gone largely according to the junta's plans. In many constituencies the poll was a two-way battle between the USDP and the National Unity Party (NUP), which is the successor to late dictator Ne Win's party and also closely aligned with the military. [Source: AFP, November 9 2010]

Reuters reported: “Stacked with recently retired generals and closely aligned with the 77-year-old paramount leader, Senior General Than Shwe, the USDP took as many as 80 percent of the available seats for parliament, a senior party official told Reuters. But Khin Maung Swe, the leader of the largest opposition party, the National Democratic Force, told Reuters: "We took the lead at the beginning but the USDP later came up with so-called advance votes and that changed the results completely, so we lost." The second-largest pro-democracy party, the Democratic Party (Burma), also conceded defeat. "I admit defeat but it was not fair play. It was full of malpractice and fraud and we will try to expose them and tell the people," said the party leader, Thu Wai. At least six parties have lodged complaints with the election commission, accusing the USDP of fraud – a charge that is unlikely to gain traction in a country where more than 2,100 political activists are in jail. [Source: Reuters, November 9, 2010]

Analysis of Myanmar’s 2010 Elections

Tim Johnston wrote in The Financial Times, “Many analysts believe that even if the result is a foregone conclusion, any process that leads to a dilution of military control presents the best opportunity for progress in years. "There may be slightly more political space if the other parties win some seats," said Donna Guest, the deputy director of Amnesty International's Asia program and a longtime Burma watcher. The junta refers to the country as Myanmar. "The cynical interpretation is that it's 'job done' in that regard," Heyn said. He said that many voters were nervous that authorities would be able to track their votes and were worried about the consequences should they be found to have voted for the opposition.” [Source: Tim Johnston, Financial Times, Washington Post, November 8, 2010]

NBC News, AP and Reuters reported: “Despite the storm of criticism, some voters and experts on Myanmar said the election could herald a modicum of change from the decades of iron-fisted rule and gross economic mismanagement of the resource-rich nation. "The elections, for all their farcical elements, have already achieved something: Burmese people are listening and talking more about politics than they have for a long time," said Monique Skidmore of the Australian National University. "It seems likely that the very small public political space will be widened and this is probably the best outcome we can hope for from the election." Optimists say even a handful of opposition parliamentarians could allow for limited government oversight, and possibly pave the way for more political change in the years to come. [Source: NBC News, AP, Reuters, November 7, 2010 **]

But while the NUP and USDP are both conservative and authoritarian, they may pursue opposing social and economic policies in parliament, ultimately fostering greater democratic debate in a country where an estimated 2,100 political activists and opposition politicians are behind bars, diplomats said. An unexpectedly large vote for the NUP could also be seen as a subtle jab against Than Shwe, as it is thought to be closer to a different faction in the army. "They are not of the same machinery," a Western diplomat said of the two dominant parties, citing tensions between the two on the campaign trail. "The USDP is very much the regime's party while the NUP has a longer legacy," he added, referring to its founding under the rule of late dictator Ne Win. **

Simon Montlake wrote in the Christian Science Monitor: Khin Maung Shwe, an official in the National Democratic Force, a breakaway NLD group that won 16 parliamentary seats, admitted that the gains were small but said that an election boycott served no purpose. He said his party would propose new laws and try to build alliances with like-minded lawmakers. “We have to be patient,” he says by phone from Rangoon. [Source: Simon Montlake, Christian Science Monitor, January 31, 2011 =]

AFP reported: “Myanmar's southeast Asian neighbours welcomed the poll as a "significant step forward". "ASEAN encourages Myanmar to continue to accelerate the process of national reconciliation and democratisation, for stability and development in the country," chair Vietnam said in a statement. [Source: AFP, November 9 2010]

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, The Irrawaddy, Myanmar Travel Information Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, burmalibrary.org, burmanet.org, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2014

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