A long-awaited election | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 09, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 09, 2015


A long-awaited election

Will it bring democracy in Myanmar?

The November 8 election in Myanmar is a step forward and a significant improvement on the manifestly rigged affair in 2010. The elections were reportedly held peacefully and largely participated with an 80 percent turnout, according to the Union Election Commission. That notwithstanding, the election has to be seen as what it really is—a flawed, partial exercise in democracy that may not to lead to real changes.  For it will be conducted mostly on terms set by the quasi-military government, maintaining its lock on power while disenfranchising and persecuting hundreds of thousands of ethnic minorities, most notably the Rohingyas. 

The military-designed constitution specifically prevents Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president even though her National League for Democracy (NLD)   might well win most seats. And a quarter of the members of the lower house of parliament are appointed directly by the head of the armed forces.  That means, regardless of the outcome of the election, the constitution will likely remain in place for some time because the votes of more than three-quarters of legislators are needed to change it. 

However, we have to wait and see how things in the political front unfold after the elections. But the fact that an openly contested election was held after 25 years, albeit without participation of a segment of its population, is a positive development. This, we hope, will lead to an environment of inclusive politics in Myanmar. 

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