On 8 November, Burma/Myanmar held what has been called its ‘free-est and fairest’ election in 25 years. An 80% turnout rate was reported for the 33.5 million Burmese eligible to vote in the election, which saw the first participation of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in a general election since the (later annulled) 1990 elections.
After a half century of rule by authoritarian regimes, and 2010’s sham election which saw the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) win through widespread fraud, the landmark vote was heralded as the most credible in a generation, but was far from being ‘free and fair.’ The results will determine the composition of 75% of Burma’s National and Regional Parliaments, while 25% of seats remain reserved for the military.
Large-scale discriminatory disenfranchisements, particularly targeting the Rohingya minority and Muslims, meant the vote marked a step backwards for some. The lead-up also saw worrisome trends in vote-buying, increasing influence by Buddhist nationalists, and violent attacks against the NLD [including a machete attack on candidate Naing Ngan Linn, see October 2015 Burma Bulletin]. However, 8 November saw no reports of violence or obvious fraud, while some irregularities were reported.
This briefer summarizes the key issues from the 8 November Election Day.