Joko MacKenna

Election fever in Myanmar

Why I'm in the dark when it comes to election results

I'm sitting in the dark with my rechargeable battery powered desk lamp slowly dying. Maybe I can write this blog with the power left on my laptop; maybe not.

Yangon City has been known for its regular blackouts. Electricity here is unreliable I was told before I moved here 20 months ago. For the first year I was here, this seemed an exaggeration. The power here went out about as much as it did in my previous home, Bangkok.

In 2015, however, things have gotten worse. Power outages have gotten more frequent and longer lasting. Traffic jams have intensified. Internet connectivity has improved, but it's still nowhere near the Singapore-class levels promised by the telecom companies.

So, in many ways, Myanmar's recent rapid development has highlighted it's own weaknesses, infrastructure being first and foremost of them.

Tonight, we will see how the Golden Land is progressing when it comes to another aspect of development: the growth of democracy as an institution.

On 8 November, Myanmar held it's first contested national election since 1990. When the current quasi-civilian gov't was given power in 2010, the main opposition party, Aung Sang Suu Kyi's NLD, boycotted the elections.

Yesterday was the first time millions of Myanmar citizens have voted in their lives. I'll spare you a complete description of the nation's recent political history, but a lot is riding on this election.

Will Myanmar be considered a democracy (something Thailand can't claim at the moment) or will it be a quasi-democracy?

It's the next day, and the whole populace seems to be on pins and needles, awaiting the announcement of the results.

The Election Commission will be making the results known at 6 PM, Myanmar time. That's about 25 minutes from now. There have been some early results already made public. In NLD strongholds like Mandalay, MP (Hluttaw seats) spots were won by NLD with 80% of the popular vote.

In status-quo dependent places like Nay Pyi Taw, results were conversely dominant for the ruling party, the USDP, also with like a 4 to 1 majority. In Magway, one of the biggest provinces of Myanmar, early results show that the NLD has won every single seat. A full sweep.

Will the NLD win the 67% majority of MPs they need to form a government and elect the next president? We'll find out in about 15 minutes.

It will all come down to how well the ethnic parties did as a 3rd parties and the vote in Myanmar's most populous region, the Ayerwaddy Delta.

I'd turn on the TV right now and find out, but as I said, the power remains out.

I also have a YouTube page with lots more stuff about the teaching lifestyle in Myanmar


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