NDF lowers the election bar

Financial problems and time constraints mean that the opposition National Democratic Force (NDF) will no longer eye victory in Burma’s elections this year.

Instead the party will look to act as a counterweight to what appears increasingly likely to be an extension of military rule in Burma, under the guise of a civilian government.

The government announced last week that the polls would be held on 7 November this year, while boundaries for 330 constituencies have been drawn. On top of this, 110 parliamentary seats will be reserved for unelected military officials.

Thein Nyunt, deputy chair of the NDF, said that there were still a number of obstacles to navigate before being able to effectively contest the country’s first polls in two decades. Election laws stipulate that a party must begin submitting its list of candidates today, each of whom is required to pay a 500,000 kyat (US$500) registration fee.

“To submit that list of candidates, we will have to go to a judge and obtain his confirmation to verify the list,” he said. “We will have to approach ward-level Election Commissions to verify the residency of the candidates, and so forth. The documentation process alone will take about a week. There are many challenges.”

The NDF is due to compete for seats in some 50 constituencies across Burma, out of a total of 330. Each party must have at least 1,000 members, and Thein Nyunt said that time constraints will make it difficult to fight for votes in its targeted constituencies, adding that NDF leaders may not even be able to meet with party candidates.

“Under the present circumstances, all we can do now is to tell each of our candidates to deposit 500,000 kyat with the township Election Commission to contest the election.

“Since we have to come up with the 1,000 members and also prepare to enter the elections all at the same time, we can only try to become a strong opposition force in the parliament rather than win outright.”

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