Monday, April 2, 2012

A new day?

Early projections for the recent by-elections in Myanmar predict a sixty percent fraction of the vote, and about 40 seats of the 45 seats contested to the National League of Democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi. Given that the total number of seats in parliament is 664, of which one quarter are reserved for the military, the victory will be more of a moral and symbolic nature rather than translating into numerical strength for the issues that will face the house. However, the moral strength of the victory which will result in Suu Kyi returning to the house for the first time since 1990, may pave the way to amendments reducing the military strength in the house. Already, key electoral reforms which paved the way to this wekend's ballot went further than the cosmetic measures which were supposedly undertaken to facilitate Myanmar's chair in the ASEAN nations. Once in parliament, Suu Kyi can influence policy and help to tilt the balance of power from the dictats of the military to the wishes of the common people. Of course, the composition of the Myanmar parliament is such that the NLD will hold little legislative power. On the hand, there is no doubt that Myanmar has opened up to an extent which could not have been predicted even a year ago, leading to the hope that sometime in the not too distant future, the country may finally be freed from nearly half a century of military rule.

This blog post is by Neelima Gupte and Sumathi Rao.

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