Myanmar general election, 1990
All 492 seats to the Burmese Constitutional Committee
247 seats needed for a majority
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General elections were held in Myanmar on 27 May 1990, the first multi-party elections since 1960, after which the country had been ruled by a military dictatorship. The elections were not meant to form a parliamentary government, but rather to form a parliament-sized constitutional committee to draft a new constitution.
The elections were won convincingly by Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), who took 392 of the 492 seats. However, the military junta refused to recognise the results, and ruled the country as the State Peace and Development Council until 2011. Voter turnout was 72.6%.
The aftermath of the uprising in 1988 and the rise of leader Aung San Suu Kyi placed worldwide media attention on the political situation in Myanmar. In September 1988, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC, the predecessor to the State Peace and Development Council), in its Declaration No. 1, had set four goals for the country: to maintain law and order, improve transportation, improve the humanitarian situation and hold multi-party elections. It also stated that the military would not "cling to power for long". Suu Kyi had been calling for dialogue between the SLORC and the citizens of Myanmar. In May 1989, the government reopened universities that had been involved in the uprising the previous year. At the same time, the government conceded and a date for the election was set for May 1990 with political parties registering for the election immediately. The date, 27 May 1990, was chosen for its auspicious nature surrounding the number 9; 27 May (2+7=9), and on the fourth Sunday of the fifth month (4+5=9).
Parties and campaigning
93 political parties presented a total of 2,297 candidates to contest the 492 constituencies, with at least 2 candidates per constituency. Of the 93, 19 different ethnic parties also took part in the election. The National Unity Party (NUP) was favoured by the military to win. Suu Kyi, a popular opposition figure, ran against General Ne Win's largely disliked associate, Sein Lein. The symbol for the NUP was a sheaf of rice stalks, and the NLD's was a straw hat. Some people took to wearing rice stalks around their bare feet, a grave insult in a Buddhist country.
Although election campaigning was underway, the government placed restrictions on opposition politicians. U Aung Gyi, a former member of the junta, was expected to lead a weak coalition that would not challenge the interests of the army. He was imprisoned in 1988 for his outspoken views against the regime, but criticised Suu Kyi for being a "radical manipulated by Communists". Former Prime Minister U Nu remained under house arrest during the election process, as was Suu Kyi since 20 July 1989, without trial. Throughout campaigning, the government kept its restrictions on public gatherings and political meetings, and required all political literature to be approved by the SLORC prior to publication; however political parties defied the ruling. Two days before the election, visas for 61 foreign journalists were unexpectedly issued to cover the vote.
The National League for Democracy (NLD) won 392 of the 492 contested seats in the Pyithu Hluttaw (Legislature), which would have given it an overwhelming majority had the chamber convened. The National Unity Party (NUP), which was favoured by the incumbent military junta, came second in terms of vote share with 21% of the vote and fourth in terms of seats, with only 10 seats in the chamber. The remaining seats in the chamber were won by a mixture of ethnic parties and independents.
|National League for Democracy||7,934,622||59.87||392|
|National Unity Party||2,805,559||21.17||10|
|Peasants National Unity Organisation (NUP)||300,906||2.27||0|
|League for Democracy and Peace||243,023||1.83||0|
|Shan Nationalities League for Democracy||222,821||1.68||23|
|Union National Democracy Party||196,518||1.48||1|
|Arakan League for Democracy||160,783||1.21||11|
|Workers Unity Organisation (NUP)||153,854||1.16||0|
|Mon National Democratic Front||138,572||1.05||5|
|National Democratic Party for Human Rights||128,129||0.97||4|
|Party for National Democracy||72,672||0.55||3|
|Youth Unity Organisation (NUP)||71,517||0.54||0|
|Students and Youth League for Mayyu Development||57,088||0.43||0|
|Chin National League for Democracy||51,187||0.39||3|
|Democratic Front for National Reconstruction||38,203||0.29||0|
|Union Paoh National Organisation||35,389||0.27||3|
|Arakan People's Democratic Front||29,115||0.22||0|
|Ta'ang National League for Democracy||23,975||0.18||2|
|Union Danu League for Democracy Party||23,145||0.17||1|
|Mro or Khami National Solidarity Organisation||22,778||0.17||1|
|Zomi National Congress||18,638||0.14||2|
|Democratic Organisation for Kayan National Unity||16,553||0.12||2|
|Union Karen League||16,518||0.12||0|
|Lahu National Development Party||15,796||0.12||1|
|Union of Burma (Main) AFPFL||14,443||0.11||0|
|Kachin State National Congress for Democracy||13,994||0.11||3|
|Kayah State Nationalities League for Democracy||11,664||0.09||2|
|Graduates and Old Students Democratic Association||10,634||0.08||1|
|Naga Hills Regional Progressive Party||10,612||0.08||2|
|Kamans National League for Democracy||10,596||0.08||1|
|Kachin State National Democratic Party||10,069||0.08||0|
|Lisu National Solidarity||9,397||0.07||0|
|United Nationalities League for Democracy||9,389||0.07||1|
|Kokang Democracy and Unity Party||9,085||0.07||0|
|Democratic Party for New Society||9,031||0.07||0|
|Arakan National Unity Organisation||8,663||0.07||0|
|Democratic League for the National Races of Shan State||7,210||0.05||0|
|Karen National Congress for Democracy||6,776||0.05||0|
|Karen State National Organisation||6,401||0.05||1|
|Kachin National Congress||6,304||0.05||0|
|Shan State Kokang Democratic Party||6,195||0.05||1|
|League of Peasants' Unions||6,037||0.05||0|
|Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League||6,029||0.05||0|
|Mara People's Party||5,873||0.04||1|
|Inn-Tha National Organisation||5,790||0.04||0|
|Farmer, Gadu Ganan and Shan National Unity Democratic Headquarters||5,257||0.04||0|
|Wa National Development Party||4,676||0.04||0|
|Democratic Human Rights Party||4,246||0.03||0|
|People's Democratic Party||4,242||0.03||0|
|National Peace and Democracy Party||3,988||0.03||0|
|Unity and Development Party||3,656||0.03||0|
|Free People League of Burma||2,959||0.02||0|
|Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League (Original)||2,882||0.02||0|
|Peasants' Development Party||2,847||0.02||0|
|People's Volunteer Organisation||2,696||0.02||0|
|Union for the Improvement of Burmese Women||2,495||0.02||0|
|Patriotic Old Comrades' League||2,435||0.02||1|
|All Burma National Progressive Democracy Party||2,249||0.02||0|
|League of Democratic Allies||2,114||0.02||0|
|Arakan Nationalities Democracy Party||2,033||0.02||0|
|Patriotic Democratic Youth Front||1,963||0.01||0|
|Rakhine National Humanitarian Development Organisation||1,942||0.01||0|
|People's Peasants Union||1,894||0.01||0|
|National Ethnic Reformation Party||1,782||0.01||0|
|Democratic Allies' League||1,619||0.01||0|
|Indigenous Collaboration Party||1,241||0.01||0|
|Might of New Generation Youth Front||1,224||0.01||0|
|Shan State Kachin Democratic Party||1,197||0.01||0|
|United League of Democratic Parties||1,174||0.01||0|
|United Trade Union Congress||1,128||0.01||0|
|National Progressive Youth of Myanmar Naing Ngan||1,013||0.01||0|
|National Peace Party||954||0.01||0|
|Leading Strength of National Realism Centre||928||0.01||0|
|Youths' Solidarity Front||860||0.01||0|
|Union People's Future and Democracy Party||848||0.01||0|
|All Burma Democratic People's Power Organisation||748||0.01||0|
|Democratic People's League||747||0.01||0|
|All Burma United Youths Organisation||640||0.00||0|
|Patriotic Youth Organisation||609||0.00||0|
|Union of Burma Unity Democracy League||604||0.00||0|
|United National Congress||575||0.00||0|
|Anti-Communist, Anti-Socialist, Anti-Totalitarian Free Democracy League||511||0.00||0|
|Union of Burma Democratic Front||414||0.00||0|
|Union of Kachin Youth||401||0.00||0|
|Democratic Labour Party||393||0.00||0|
|Shan National Democratic Development Party||366||0.00||0|
|National Politics Front (Youth)||354||0.00||0|
|Burma United Democratic Party||269||0.00||0|
|People's Power Party||158||0.00||0|
|Union Stability Party||86||0.00||0|
|People's Pioneer Party||70||0.00||0|
|Source: Democratic Voice of Burma|
Initially, the SLORC said it would honour the results of the election to the Pyithu Hluttaw (Legislature). However, later the government, surprised at the outcome, annulled the results and many MPs elect were arrested or went into exile. Some later formed the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma. Two months after the election, the SLORC issued Order 1/90, explaining it had legitimacy to rule as it was recognised by the United Nations and individual countries, as well as ensuring it would prevent the break-up of the Union. It required all parties to recognise and accept the Order, and many opposition figures who refused were arrested.
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