YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Myanmar holds national and state elections on Sunday in which the National League for Democracy party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi will seek to retain power.
Here’s a look at the vote:
Over 37 million of Myanmar’s 56 million people have the right to vote. More than 90 parties present candidates for seats in the upper and lower houses of parliament.
The NLD’s landslide victory in the last elections in 2015 came after more than five decades of military or military rule. These polls were seen as largely free and fair with one big exception: the 2008 military-drafted constitution automatically grants the military 25 percent of seats in parliament, enough to block constitutional changes. This reservation is still true.
The coronavirus and the restrictions to contain it, which are expected to lower turnout despite government plans for social distancing and other safety measures, eclipse polls.
Suu Kyi’s party is heavily favored to win again, but probably with a reduced majority. Suu Kyi is by far the most popular politician in the country, and the NLD has a strong national network, strengthened by holding the levers of state power.
Nonetheless, the NLD has been criticized for its lack of vision and for adopting some of the more authoritarian methods of its military predecessors, in particular targeting criticism through the courts.
Suu Kyi’s party has lost the cooperation of many ethnic minority parties, which are popular in their border home countries. In 2015, these parties were tacit allies with the NLD and managed not to compete strongly where vote sharing could give victory to the Union Solidarity and Development Party, or USDP, backed by the NLD. ‘army.
Suu Kyi’s failure to come to an agreement giving ethnic minorities the greater political autonomy they have sought for decades has disillusioned them, and this year they will be working against the NLD rather than with it. There are about 60 small ethnic parties.
The main opposition, the USDP, was founded as a proxy for the military and is again the NLD’s strongest competitor. It is well funded and well organized. It is not clear whether voters still view him as tainted by his association with previous military regimes.
To a large extent, the polls are seen as a referendum on Suu Kyi’s five years in power, just as the 2015 elections were seen as a judgment on military rule.
There has been economic growth, but it has benefited a tiny fraction of the population of one of the poorest countries in the region and has not met people’s expectations.
Not only were the minority ethnic groups disappointed with Suu Kyi’s inability to grant them greater autonomy, but in the western state of Rakhine, the well-trained and well-armed Arakan army – a group that claims to represent the group. ethnic Buddhist Rakhine – has risen to become the biggest military threat in years.
The cancellation of the vote by the Election Commission in some areas where critical government parties were certain to win seats drew strong criticism. It is estimated that this decision deprived more than a million people of their rights. Critics accused the Election Commission of conspiring to run for the NLD
The topic that receives the most attention in the world, the oppression of the Rohingya Muslim minority, is not really an electoral issue, except for anti-Muslim politicians. A brutal counterinsurgency campaign in 2017 led to an estimated 740,000 Rohingya fleeing across the border into Bangladesh, but they have long faced systematic discrimination that denies them citizenship and the right to vote.