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The pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has won Burma’s elections after gaining 76.5 percent of seats across the three parliaments, according to the country’s supreme election authority.
The results arrive 11 days after Burmese went to the polls for the first time in two decades, but come as little surprise: the USDP was the strongest contender by a stretch, and received the tacit support of the ruling junta, who choreographed election conditions that appeared to favour the party.
Trailing the USDP, which won 883 of the total 1,154 seats, is the National Unity Party (NUP), which came runner-up in the last polls. Also holding close ties to the ruling junta, the NUP won only 63 seats, the China-based People’s Daily quoted the Election Commission (EC) as saying.
The next four parties all fall within the ‘opposition’ bracket, despite fears before the polls that any pro-democracy candidates would be altogether sidelined. However, the total amount of seats won by these parties makes up only nine percent of the total.
They are, in order: the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), with 57 seats; the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) with 35 seats, and the National Democratic Force (NDF) and All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMRDP), each with 16 seats.
The presence of three ethnic-based parties in the top five are a symbolic victory for Burma’s long-marginalised ethnic groups, although their potential clout in a post-election will likely be very limited.
The three parliaments – the People’s Parliament, the Nationalities Parliament and the Regions and States Parliament – are set to convene within 90 days of the vote. A quarter of the seats for each had already been reserved for the military prior to the vote.
It is the winner, the USDP, which has been the target of much of the controversy that dogged the polls. A number of parties are weighing up the possibility of making a formal complaint to the EC about the USDP, but that is both expensive and dangerous, with complainants risking jail terms if unsuccessful.