Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 06/2012

The Significance of Burma/Myanmar's By-Elections

David I. Steinberg

April 2012

East-West Center


The drumbeat against the process and the potential results of the Burma/Myanmar by-elections of April 1, 2012 for 45 seats (37, or 11 percent in the Lower House of the bicameral legislature; 6, or 4 percent in the Upper House, and 2 in regional bodies) started before the polling began and the votes were counted. Human Rights Watch said they were a step forward, but not real reform. Campaign Burma UK wrote that it was impossible for them to be free and fair. And Aung San Suu Kyi, running for a seat, said they would be neither free nor fair. The plan to undercut their significance before they took place was evident. The ambiguous vagueness of “free and fair."