In the quarter century between 1990 and 2015, Burma/Myanmar experienced an unusual period in its electoral history. The opposition, National League for Democracy (NLD), handily won the 1990 general elections, but the ruling military junta declared the results invalid. The generals won the 2010 elections only because they were boycotted by the National League for Democracy. The opposition participated in the 2012 by-elections and then won the majority of the 75 percent of parliamentary seats it could contest in the 2015 national elections. Still, despite significant progress in electoral freedom and fairness, and notwithstanding the NLD's 2015 victory, no true transfer of power has taken place in Myanmar. The reason for this is that the 2008 Constitution was written by the junta; basic provisions guarantee the armed forces' continuing dominance of politics. The Constitution cannot be amended without the generals' consent, and it is hard to imagine why they would agree to reduce their own power in the foreseeable future. Although the NLD has now been in government for more than two years, its record has been disappointing even in the policy areas that are under its control (education, healthcare, economic reform). Moreover, due to its refusal to condemn the armed forces' ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority, the regime has lost much of the goodwill of Western democracies. The NLD still enjoys the support of the majority of the ethnic Burmese (Bamar) population, but it must start to deliver on its promises of economic and political reform in order to maintain its absolute majority in the legislature.


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pp. 105-117
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