The Myanmar Elections 2015
Why the National League for Democracy Won a Landslide Victory
Author: Ardeth Thawnghmung
On November 8th, 2015 the vast majority of Myanmar’s citizens participated in what official observers—international and domestic—widely hailed as the most genuinely competitive, free, fair, and orderly parliamentary elections in the nation since 1990. Yet the poll, which resulted in a resounding victory for the National League for Democracy (NLD), surprised many observers, who expected that members of the ruling party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), would have done better through widely anticipated vote-rigging and manipulation of the results. Right up to a few days before the vote, observers were concerned about the possibility of a cancellation of the election as a result of politically motivated violence or, in the event they went ahead, administrative chaos resulting from errors in voters’ registration information and large-scale vote-rigging and manipulation by the ruling party. These fears were well-founded given that only three weeks prior to the elections, the government’s Union Election Commission (UEC) proposed delaying the polls, citing recent floods that had devastated twelve out of Myanmar’s fourteen states and regions, killing 103 people and displacing one million others. This proposal predictably met strong resistance from the NLD and other opposition parties, which expected a strong public support for them in the poll.