ELECTION 2015: Deadline set for new political parties

ELECTION 2015: Deadline set for new political parties

The Union Election Commission (UEC) has announced an enrolment deadline of 30 April 2015 for those who wish to form new political parties to contest this year’s general election.

The UEC said would-be party leaders must apply for permission to form their party no later than 30 April, a date set to allow sufficient time for the next steps of party registration and election campaigning.

According to the Political Parties Registration Law, a minimum of 15 persons must sign any application to establish a political party. All must be at least 25 years of age. Citizens, naturalized citizens and temporary certificate holders may apply, though members of a religious order, members of insurgent groups and foreigners may not.

Seventy-one political parties are currently registered with the UEC across Burma.

The UEC’s chairman, Tin Aye, announced late last year that general elections will be held at the end of October or beginning of November 2015. In response, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi told reporters that the government must ensure “not only free and fair, but timely elections” if Burma is to progress on the path to democracy.

President Thein Sein subsequently stated on 1 March during his monthly radio address to the nation that the 2015 general election will be held in the month of November.

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The campaign period ahead of the election is another matter to be resolved. While the UEC maintains that a 30-day period for campaigning is ample, several political parties, including the ethnic-based Federal Democratic Alliance, have stated that 60 days is required to allow each candidate to conduct an effective campaign drive.

No mention has yet been made about the registration of independent candidates or a timeframe for the formation of coalitions.

In November, the UEC began compiling new voter lists for the 2015 general election after last year’s census uncovered a gaping discrepancy in the actual versus the predicted number of people in the country.

The March census tallied 51.4 million people within Burma, as opposed to 60 million, an officially held figure that had been cobbled together by projected birth rates and disparate demographic studies.

The UEC is now tasked with calculating how many people are eligible to vote in this year’s election. The commission said in November it would take eight months for it to construct a new list, likely to be very different from the one used as recently as the 2012 by-elections.

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