This past Sunday, Myanmar men and women voted in their first true national elections in twenty-five years. On Election Day, the mood in many towns and cities was exuberant. The 1990 elections, the last national elections, were essentially annulled by the armed forces, which continued to govern until launching a transition to civilian rule in 2011. Unlike in 1990, this time many Myanmar people believed that the election would be upheld, leading to the country’s first democratically elected government in five decades. On the campaign trail, the National League for Democracy (NLD) and other parties drew huge rallies, and just before Election Day, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, head of the NLD, held a press conference that drew a massive mob of foreign and domestic reporters.
On Election Day, Myanmar voters came to the polls in huge numbers. Some six thousand candidates, representing over ninety parties, ran in the election. According to one estimate by Myanmar election officials, some eighty percent of eligible voters voted on Election Day, a huge turnout given the remoteness of some areas of the country. After the polls closed, people flocked to the NLD’s headquarters in Yangon, to cheer and watch results coming in on large screens. Election Day proceeded, overall, with what appeared to be minimal irregularities and no significant episodes of violence. The NLD appears to be heading toward a large victory, one that would give it a huge majority of seats in the 664-person Parliament. Several leading members of the government’s Union Solidarity and Development Party already have conceded, although final tallies are not due until later this week.