The Union Election Commission has confirmed that Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy has won more than 75 percent of all contested seats in what was a historic and remarkably peaceful election in Myanmar.
After reports of “unnamed election heroes that trekked through the mountains carrying ballot papers from remote areas in Kachin state”, the Union Election Commission (UEC) has now announced the final results of the November 8 parliamentary elections in Myanmar. Just as the early reports suggested, the National League for Democracy (NLD) has secured an overwhelming victory.
Overall, NLD won a total of 887 of the 1150 seats (both national and regional) contested during the elections, amounting to a total of 77.1 percent of the contested seats. Meanwhile, Union Solidarity and Development Party (USPD) secured a total of 117 (or 10.2 percent) seats. Counting in the 25 percent of parliamentary seats occupied by military representatives, NLD now holds 58.7 percent of the seats and constitutes an absolute majority in Myanmar’s two-chamber parliament. In the lower house, Pyithu Hluttaw, NLD took 77.9 percent of the seats, and in the upper house, Amyotha Hluttaw, NLD won 80.3 percent of the seats.
Furthermore, support for NLD is seen nationwide, with Aung San Suu Kyi’s party now holding absolute majorities in all seven regional parliaments, as well as in three state parliaments, whereas USDP kept their absolute majority in Shan State.
(Myanmar Times, 24 November 2015)
More women and youth in parliament
The elections also saw a considerable improvement in women’s representation in the parliament. Out of 791 female candidates that ran for office, 150 where elected. That is almost a tripling of elected women, compared to the previous parliament. Even though there is still a long way to go, women now take up 13 percent of seats nationwide.
NLD’s success is also evident among their youth candidates (35 or below), with 125 out of 150 youth candidates winning seats in one of the three parliaments. NLD youth candidates thereby take up more than 10 percent of all contested seats nationwide. Meanwhile, only few youth candidates from other parties have won seats, thereby somewhat mirroring the full election result. Remarkably, SNLD fielded the second highest number of winning youth candidates, getting six seats.
Looking at the gender balance among the youth candidates, there is also still a clear male dominance, with only around 25 percent of youth candidates being female.
Burmese politics is still widely dominated by experienced men, which is also reflected in the 2008 constitution. It states that MP’s must be at least 25 years old for the lower house and the regional assemblies and at least 30 years old for the upper house. Furthermore, the president and vice president must be at least 45 and ministers at least 40. Therefore, even though Burmese youth are free to participate in elections, these laws restrict their opportunities of taking up top political positions, regardless of their qualities.
Hope of a peaceful transition
With the results now clear, outgoing president Thein Sein has reiterated that he will support a peaceful transition of power. Likewise, Aung San Suu Kyi once again pledged to cooperate during this transitional process, when she met with Speaker of the parliament Shwe Mann for the first of three planned high-level transition talks. These voices of commitment therefore supports the popular hope of a peaceful next step in Myanmar’s democratic transition.
Through the Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme, DIPD is supporting the participation of women and youth in politics. As part of this programme, a cross-political youth delegation visited Denmark ahead of the Danish parliamentary elections in June 2015. Here they had the opportunity to meet with Danish youth wings, as well as experience the last phase of a Danish parliamentary election, and a strong focus on both women and youth will continue to be an integral part of DIPD’s efforts in Myanmar.
The exact voter turnout and a detailed list of elected candidates is yet to be announced by the UEC.