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April 2012 By-Elections

This page is now archived and will be kept indefinitely for research purposes. Only materials strictly relevant to the 1 April 2012 by-elections will be added.

Final Results: 2010 Elections, then updated by 2012 by-elections: Lower House (Pyithu Hluttaw)

Final Results: 2010 Elections, then updated by 2012 by-elections: Upper House (Amyotha Hluttaw)

The results were contained in Union Election Commission Announcements Nos. 17/2012 to 21/2012 which appeared in The New Light of Myanmar on 3 and 4 April 2012. These Announcements may also be viewed at these links:

A detailed report on the voting statistics has now appeared in a supplement to the State Burmese language daily publication Myanmar Ahlin of 9 April 2012. The report shows that:

The National League for Democracy won 2,686,633 votes (66%). 
The Union Solidarity and Development Party won 1,122,280 votes (27%).
Total number of valid votes cast was 4,091,840, of which 146,265 votes (or 3.6%) were advance votes. The voter turn-out was 68.19%, significantly lower than the approximately 77% in 2010 despite the relatively high interest and awareness of the campaign.

Analysis of Myanmar's NLD landslide
New Mandala - 1 May 2012
Kyaw Kyaw, the pseudonym of a Yangon-based contributor, examines the implications of the NLD's landslide victory in the April 2012 by-elections, and concludes:

"If there is one thing the election showed, it is that politics remains dangerously personalised; too much is reliant on the understanding between President U Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as Pyithu Hluttaw Thura U Shwe Mann. If this relationship wavers - and, as we’ve seen in recent days, obstacles can appear in relatively unlikely places - Myanmar’s political future will be more opaque than ever."

Election Monitoring Network - 7 April 2012

The Election Monitoring Network, led by the 88-Generation Students, is in the words of the report "one of the leading groups inside the country monitoring all the electoral processes, judging by international standards, yet in addition, we have  a significant understanding of the local context." Points from their report include:

  • "The pre-election period was overshadowed by numerous irregularities......While these key shortcomings come out in nearly all the constituencies, some positive steps made this by-election free and fair.

  • "The April 1 by-election generally went well. People could genuinely express their own voices through their own votes.

  • "The Election Day was greatly peaceful........While these overwhelming shortcomings [listed] were taking place, some positive steps occurred that helped to make this election 'relatively' free and fair.

  • "The post-election period was significantly smooth.

  • "The people feel that the success of this by-election is a step towards resolving Myanmar's political, economic and social problems. 

  • "The election has been a major step forward for progressive developments."

The full report may be read in English as well as in Burmese.

Derek Tonkin writes: This Monitoring Report is worth its weight in gold as its integrity is beyond doubt. It covers the pre-election campaign, election day itself, and the post-election response. No punches are pulled in highlighting irregularities. Its recommendations are sensible and responsible. Min Ko Naing has said that a more comprehesive assessment will be published next month.

Latest News and Comment

Myanmar leaders accept vote defeat, vow more changes
The Wall Street Journal - 3 April 2012
Myanmar's leaders accepted defeat in weekend by-elections but cast the result as an opportunity to push for more change as they worked to manage the fallout from a major electoral triumph by dissident leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her allies....... Presidential adviser Ko Ko Hlaing said the outcome could actually help strengthen the hand of reformers by showing conservative politicians they have to do more to change. Despite losing at the polls, "we have gotten credibility and legitimacy for holding the vote," he said. Now, dissenters within the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party "have to accept it because this is the new reality," he said. "They have to realize their failure and revise their strategy to get ready" for Myanmar's next elections in 2015.

ANFREL Statement on Myanmar By-elections
Asian Network for Free Elections - 3 April 2012
The by-elections in Myanmar mark a historic phase in the country’s transition towards democracy and ANFREL-Foundation takes this opportunity to congratulate the people of Myanmar. The by-elections were extremely significant to sustain the reforms process in Myanmar and strengthen the process of democratization in the future.

Notwithstanding the results of the elections and the generally peaceful polling process, a lot remains to be done to make elections completely free and fair or at least credible. A number of concerns came to the fore during the electoral process, which were described as “irregularities” by a number of groups including Anfrel-Foundation, which was not allowed to observe the elections as an independent body.

By-elections Aftermath

Celebrate Aung San Suu Kyi's victory - ease sanctions on Myanmar
CNN - 2 April 2012
Suzanne DiMaggio, vice president of global policy programs at the Asia Society, and Priscilla Clapp, a retired minister-counselor in the U.S. Foreign Service and former Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Burma, argue that the international community should take this moment to encourage Myanmar's moves toward liberalization. For the United States, the time has come to seriously address its myriad financial sanctions on Myanmar to ensure that they are not working at cross-purposes with reform efforts.

The draconian application of U.S. financial sanctions is having a serious negative impact on legitimate economic actors in Myanmar who are strug
gling to institute positive changes. They are also impeding Americans who are working to assist in the reforms. Read more.....

Latest News and Comment

Suu Kyi welcomes all parties to join Myanmar's national reconsolidation
China National Television - 2 April 2012

Chinese TV has given an unofficial result for the by-election in Kawhmu constituency: 
  • Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (National League for Democracy) - 55,902 votes (85.38%)
  • U Soe Min (Union Solidarity and Development Party) - 9,172 votes (14.01%)
  • U Tin Yi (Unity and Peace Party) - 397 votes (0.61%)

By-election Results - A Selection of News and Comment

NLD says Myanmar's Suu Kyi leads landslide win
Associated Press - 1 April 2012
As results came in Sunday night from the poll watchers of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, party spokesman and campaign manager Nyan Win projected it would win 40 of 45 parliamentary seats at stake. It had contested 44. The victory, if confirmed, would mark a major milestone in the Southeast Asian nation, where the military has ruled almost exclusively for a half-century and where a new reform-minded government is seeking legitimacy and a lifting of Western sanctions.

Myanmar opposition alleges ballot paper irregularities
Agence France-Presse - 1 April 2012
NLD spokesman Nyan Win said there had been widespread complaints that wax had been put over the check box for Suu Kyi's party, which could be rubbed off later to cancel the vote. "This is happening around the country..... I have sent a complaint letter to the union election commission. If it continues like this it can harm the prestige of the election."
Derek Tonkin writes: This must be one of the less credible allegations by the NLD of "irregularities" at these by-elections, in this case said to be happening "around the country". The BBC (Rachel Harvey) has said that this and other allegations are impossible to verify. The DG of the Public Relations Department has denied that any wax was put on the ballot papers, or that there was a problem over voting because of this.

Euro-Burma Office By-elections Analysis - Paper No. 1/2012
This informative assessment by the Euro-Burma Office lists all 48 seats where by-elections are scheduled to take place on Sunday 1 April 2012 (including the three Kachin constituencies where voting has been postponed) as well as the names of all 158 candidates taking part, their party affiliations and the constituencies where they are standing.

Latest Election News and Comment

Electoral Test for Myanmar Reforms
Asia Times 31 March 2012
Larry Jagan reports that: "The army could play a surprising middle role in the polls. Army chief Min Aung Hlaing - who is a native of Dawei - told the troops stationed there that they were free to vote for whomever they wanted, marking a break from Than Shwe's reported order to soldiers to vote for the USDP at the 2010 polls. 

"Min Aung Hlaing also told them to keep a watchful eye on the proceedings and as a result foot soldiers may prove to be the more effective poll monitors in areas without international observers. (Military appointees account for 25% of parliament under the 2008 Constitution.)  Some believe that a section of the army, including some of the soldiers appointed to parliament, will look towards Suu Kyi for leadership once she enters parliament." 
Read more.....

Latest Election News and Comment

Statement on behalf of the EU High Representative on the reform process
EU Press Office - Brussels 28 March 2012
The High Representative Catherine Ashton welcomes "the remarkable programme of political reform" undertaken by the President and his Government, sees the forthcoming by-elections as "a key moment in national reconciliation" and while welcoming the generally peaceful nature of the campaign, express concern about reports of intimidation and other irregularities.

EU deploying an expert team for the by-elections in Myanmar
The announcement applauds the fact that the "remarkable transition" to a multi-party system has been peaceful and orderly so far, but notes shortcomings in the conduct of the electoral campaign, some minor, some relics of the past, but some serious like reports of intimidation.

Myanmar By-elections: Into the Unknown
Myanmar Briefing Note No. 23 - 28 March 2012
Derek Tonkin examines the situation in Myanmar in the run-up to the by-elections, concludes that there is no way that the hopes and aspirations of the two main contenders, the Union Solidarity and Development Party and the National League for Democracy, can both be met, and wonders whether a Pandora's Box, which might have negative or positive consequences, could be opened when the results are known.

Analysis: West waits on Myanmar vote to start sanctions scale back
Reuters - 27 March 2012
Martin Petty writes: Western countries desperately want Myanmar's by-elections on Sunday to go smoothly - and give opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi a seat in parliament - so they can start to lift sanctions and let their companies invest in the once-isolated state.Myanmar's civilian rulers have astonished with a reform drive since taking office a year ago, freeing hundreds of political prisoners jailed by the former junta, holding peace talks with ethnic militias and opening up the economy.

Western companies are lining up to get into the country, sandwiched between China and India and offering huge potential in energy, financial services, telecoms and tourism. Diplomats say some U.S. restrictions such as visa bans and asset freezes could be lifted quickly if the election is credible, and the European Union may end sanctions that ban investment in timber and the mining of gemstones and metals.

But the ballot needs the thumbs-up from the 66-year-old Suu Kyi, who is contesting one of 45 parliamentary seats after two decades in the political wilderness, much of it under house arrest. Read more.....

President Thein Sein comments on the by-elections
The New Light of Myanmar - 26 March 2012
In a speech at Pathein on 24 March 2012 devoted to rural development and poverty alleviation, President Thein Sein concluded with remarks about the forthcoming by-elections. He noted that: "As there are unnecessary errors in the ballot lists, the deadline for confirmation was postponed to 24 March 2012, bestowing favour to political parties and voters.

"Winners and losers will emerge in the by-elections as per usual. We all need to work together to ensure that the outcome is accepted by all the people. Respecting the decision of the people, we need bear to loss. All political parties need to understand that the decision made by the people is key decision.

"As the commission is doing its best to make the by-elections free and fair, our government has invited international monitors to offer testimony. Attention of the whole world has focused on the by-elections to be held for the first time while the incumbent government is in office. All our citizens need to support the bid to hold the free and fair by-elections to be watched by the international community......"

Latest election news and comment

US ready to send observers to Myanmar
Agence France-Presse - 21 March 2012
"We will obviously take up this opportunity to monitor,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters today.Nuland said that Myanmar had invited two US observers along with three US journalists for the vote, while a “full-scale” election monitoring mission typically requires significant previous planning and follow-up.

“We will coordinate with ASEAN and other observers to try to maximize the impact that our observers can have. But we would obviously encourage the Burmese government to try to bring this monitoring effort as closely as they can to international standards."

Latest Election News

Big win for Suu Kyi's party in elections? Maybe not
Reuters - 12 March 2012
Andrew Marshall writes: The April 1 poll is the first big test of Myanmar's electoral probity and the popularity of Suu Kyi's rejuvenated party. The United States and European Union regard free and fair by-elections as a crucial condition for dismantling years of economic and political sanctions against Myanmar.....
With just three weeks left till the polls open, the NLD is already crying foul. It has accused the government of hampering its populist campaigning by a sudden ban on the use of sports grounds for political rallies......Suu Kyi has complained of "huge errors" in official lists of voters, which omitted or repeated names, or included those of dead people. 

At the rally near Mawlamyaing, Suu Kyi spoke scornfully of political parties who "promise the public this and that," such as new roads and bridges. "They also promise to provide electricity to the people," she said. "But yesterday I passed through a town where people waited to greet me with candles because they have no electricity." Read more.....

Latest Election News

Free and Fair Elections
Myanmar Briefing Note No.21 - 6 March 2012
Derek Tonkin takes a look at the likelihood that the forthcoming by-elections in Myanmar will be "free and fair", notes that in some quarters the issue is already decided, reminds us that the 1990 Elections were far from "free and fair" as popular wisdom would have us believe, and concludes that the NLD are unlikely to make a clean sweep on 1 April. 

He speculates on how the European Union is likely to react, and sees a possible clash between ideologues who favour a no-risk, calibrated response, and the pragmatists who favour proactive engagement.

Latest By-election News

EU: Observers "not needed" for by-elections
The Irrawaddy - 15 February 2012
Andris Piebalgs, the European Union Development Commissioner, told a press conference in Bangkok that independent observers are “not needed” for looming Burmese by-elections but the bloc will still wait until the April 1 poll before lifting economic sanctions. His remarks contrast with leading US Republican Sen. John McCain who called for international observers to watch over the by-elections during a speech last month. Sen. McCain said, “obviously we will have to look carefully at the process of the elections.” The Burmese government refused to have international observers present during the last general election in 2010 which was widely condemned for vote-rigging. Piebalgs, however, indicated that the EU would not call for outside observers because “the political situation provides for the people to judge for themselves.”

Latest By-election Comment

Latest By-election News

1 April set as by-election date
Agence France-Presse - 30 December 2011
Myanmar is to hold by-elections on Sunday 1 April, a government official said on Friday. The official, who said an announcement would be made by the Union Election Commission, added that those who wish to take part will need to register between January 16 and 31. The by-elections are to fill 48 seats vacated by those elected in the November 2010 elections who have since become ministers and deputy ministers in the government.  

Election Commission Chairman promises free, fair elections
The Myanmar Times  - 19-25 December 2011
The chairman of the Union Election Commission U Tin Aye last week pledged that the by-elections would be free and fair, and urged all groups to put grievances from last year’s general election behind them. “Forget the things that happened in the past and regard them as a lesson,” he told reporters in Nay Pyi Taw on December 16. He said the by-elections would be conducted in accord with existing laws, including those concerning advanced votes.

While by-elections will be held in a minimum of 48 constituencies - 40 Pyithu Hluttaw, six Amyotha Hluttaw and two in regional legislatures -  this could rise to 65 if the commission decides it is now possible to hold elections in 16 constituencies where voting was cancelled last year because of security concerns. Additionally, voting did not take place in one small township in Shan State, Mong La, because no candidates applied to contest the seat. 

Earlier last week, Dr Thant Myint-U told news agency Reuters voting would likely take place in March after a planned release of prisoners of conscience in January. But U Ko Ko Hlaing, a presidential adviser for political affairs, said the by-elections would likely not be held until April at the earliest.  

Interview with Deputy Foreign Minister Maung Myint
Mizzima - 12 December 2011

The Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister interviewed on the National Human Rights Commission, the forthcoming by-elections which "will be more transparent and fair in comparison with the general election held in November 2010", Myanmar's readiness to act as hosts for the 2014 ASEAN chairmanship, the release of political activists while asserting that: "There are no political prisoners or prisoners of conscience in our country", the relaxation of censorship, the return of exiles to Myanmar, the role of exile media, the impact of sanctions and other issues.

NLD members back tilt at by-election
The Myanmar Times - 21-27 November 2011

When it came Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s turn to speak, she encouraged members to decide pragmatically based on the political context. “We have to decide based on the needs of people and politics. We should be practical. I agree to register the party. Principally, we have to contest in three places in the by-election. Most said the party should compete in all and some want to follow my decision. In my opinion, the party should contest all the seats. It’s been a long time since the NLD could conduct activities as a political party. We have to get some practice."

She also hinted that she would run for parliament. “Some people worry about my reputation if I contest the by-elections. We shouldn't do politics for our reputation. We have to do what we think we should do. If I think I should, I will compete in the election."

Note by Network Myanmar: 106 members of the NLD Central Committee were reportedly present. However, voting on a resolution to apply for re-registration of the NLD was taken by the votes of 16 groups, one from each of the 14 Divisions and Regions and one from each of the Youth Group and Women's Group. All 16 groups supported the resolution, with considerable hesitancy from Kachin State.

NLD prepares to accept one million party members
Mizzima - 28 November 2011

The NLD party advocates a nonviolent movement towards multi-party democracy in Burma, which was under oppressive military rule from 1962 until March 2011, when a new military-dominated Parliament was formed after elections The party supports human rights - including broad-based freedom of speech, the rule of law, an end to fighting in ethnic areas and national reconciliation.
The NLD party flag features a peacock, a prominent symbol in Burma. A dancing peacock was widely used in the flags of Burmese monarchies.

Foreign-based dissident organisations reorganising
Mizzima - 28 November 2011
In response to the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) decision to re-register as a political party, many dissident organizations in foreign countries are reassessing their strategies and redefining their missions. Among the organizations are the NLD - Liberated Area; the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB); Members of Parliament Union - Burma (MPU) and the National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB). The NCGUB includes five former MPs from the1990 general election and is led by Dr. Sein Win, the 'prime minister' of the so-called Burmese 'government in exile', who is Aung San Suu Kyi’s cousin. After a meeting last week, the NCGUB decided that the word “Government” in its name is no longer appropriate.

Derek Tonkin writes: Many of these organisations have been moribund for many months and attract little support or interest. Most are soon likely to disappear. New groups like Burmese Democratic Concern and Burma Partnership have come to the fore. Though inclined to militancy, they are generally supporting the NLD move to re-register. However, the NLD are likely to want to keep their distance from volatile overseas supporters as too close an association could damage the entente which the NLD have reached with the authorities. The future of mainly Western activist groups like the Burma Campaign UK and the US Campaign for Burma is uncertain.

All Party Monks' Alliance opposes NLD decision to re-register
Mizzima - 22 November 2011
A Burmese activist Buddhist monk opposition group (in exile) on Monday said the National League for Democracy (NLD) decision to register as a political party was wrong under the country’s current political conditions. A statement issued on Monday by the All Burma Monks Alliance (ABMA) said the country’s political problems could not be solved in the newly formed Parliament. “There is not much change, so the NLD’s deviation from its Shwegondine Declaration is not suitable under the current circumstances."

Suu Kyi likely to seek office in parliamentary elections
The New York Times - 21 November 2011
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is likely to run for Parliament in the coming by-elections, senior members of her party said on Monday. It would be the first time that she has done so.

Note by Network Myanmar: In the 1990 elections, Suu Kyi was debarred from standing on a number of grounds, primarily that she allegedly owed allegiance to HM Queen Elizabeth II because she had been granted "indefinite leave to remain" in the UK following her marriage with a British citizen, Michael Aris, who died in March 1999. At the November 2010 elections, Suu Kyi decided that she did not wish to take any part in the election process, and so did not apply to stand as a candidate, nor did she cast a vote although her name was on the electoral roll.

Statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton 
EU Press Office - 18 November 2011

Catherine Ashton applauds the "courageous and welcome decision of the NLD to join the forthcoming by-elections........The EU has always stated that it will respond to positive events in the country. The restrictive measures have already been partly modified this year. A more substantial review of EU policy is already under way."

Note by Network Myanmar: The country is described as "Myanmar(Burma)" instead of the more usual "Burma/Myanmar" in Eurospeak.

EU hails courageous 'comeback' of Suu Kyi party in Myanmar - AFP

Myanmar Opposition Party to re-register for by-elections
Xinhua - 18 November 2011

Myanmar's opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, on Friday decided to get re-registered as a legal political party for the coming by-elections, according to a statement of the party's Central Executive Committee (CEC). The decision for the move was finally adopted at the CEC meeting held at the party headquarters in Yangon following a prior meeting of more than 100 senior leaders of the party representing respective regions and states. The majority of them have agreed to the move of getting the party re-registered.

Newly formed parties to contest by-elections
Mizzima - 17 November 2011
The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) is likely to contest all vacant constituencies, while the National Democratic Force (NDF) and National Unity Party (NUP) plan to contest in 20 constituencies respectively. A newly formed party, the New National Democracy Party (NNDP), will contest three seats. Included among the candidates is the well-known Burmese rapper Ratha, who will contest a seat in the Mayangone constituency.

In the 2010 general election, the ruling USDP won a majority of seats in 882 out of a total 1,154 constituencies, or 76.5 per cent.The NUP won 63 seats and the SNDP, RNDP, NDF and AMDP won 57, 35, 16 and 16 seats respectively.

The article includes a table showing the number of seats likely to be contested by individual parties and a table listing the location of the 48 constituencies.

Suu Kyi pledges to change Burma politics from within
The Daily Telegraph - 17 November 2011

Damien McElroy reports from Yangon that after recent legal changes granting new freedoms in politics, media and trade union rights, the NLD will reconsider its position on participation in the forthcoming by-elections on Friday 18 November.

NLD's ethical dilemma: Function as a pressure group or work within the system?
Shan Herald - 17 November 2011 

Sai Wansai, General Secretary of the Shan Democratic Union, observes that, according to the Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN), the SNLD (Shan Nationalities League for Democracy) has already warned that the participation of the NLD in the upcoming by-elections, after the re-registration of the party, could erode the trust of non-Burman ethic groups, which Aung San Suu Kyi so far enjoyed.“We understand that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is trying hard to gain the release of political prisoners and to achieve a genuine democracy, but I'm afraid participating in the elections without first achieving at least the release of political prisoners is [not] a good idea. We are worried ethnic nationalities will never dare to trust her again,” said Sai Leik, the SNLD spokesman recently.
Before making a final decision, perhaps it might be helpful to look at the 2009 NLD “Shwegondaing Declaration,” which includes, among others, the following points:
  • Unconditional release of all the political prisoners
  • Review of the 2008 Constitution
  • Establishment of a genuine Union based on equality for all ethnic nationalities
  • Recognition of the results of the 1990 general election
  • Political dialogue
Of the mentioned points above, only the recognition of the 1990 general elections was recently accepted by the Thein Sein government. 

National Democratic Force picks 20 candidates for by-election
Democratic Voice of Burma - 16 November 2011
The National Democratic Force says it will field 20 candidates in the upcoming by-elections, the ambiguous date of which still remains a source of frustration from would-be contenders. Its leader, , said that he and colleagues were negotiating with the various members of the 10-party alliance the NDF is part of to finalise a strategy for the by-elections, with 48 parliamentary seats up for grabs. The NDF, which split from the National League for Democracy in order to contest the election, came in fifth place in the polls last year, winning 16 seats. Of the seats available, 40 are in the People’s Parliament (Pyithu Hluttaw), six in the National Parliament (Amyotha Hluttaw) and two in the regional assemblies.

NDF expects stronger results in by-elections
The Myanmar Times - 3-9 October 2011 
The National Democratic Force is preparing to contest about half of the 48 by-elections to take place later this year, co-founder U Khin Maung Swe said last week.“We’re preparing to enter the by-elections but still don’t know when it will it be. Mostly we will compete in Yangon Region. We expect to perform better [than in the November 2010 election] because the Union Election Commission Chairman U Tin Aye said the by-elections would be free and fair and we also have more time to prepare.”

By-election Policy, Stance and Work Programmes

All Mon Regions Democracy Party
Democratic Party (Myanmar)
Kokang Democracy and Unity Party (not yet available)
Lahu National Development Party (aka New Era People's Party)
Modern People's Party
Myanmar National Congress Party
Myanmar New Society Democratic Party
National Democratic Force
National League for Democracy
National Political Alliances
National Unity Party 
New National Democracy Party
PaO National Organization (not yet available)
People's Democracy Party
Shan Nationalities Democratic Party
Union Solidarity and Development Party
Unity and Peace Party


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