This year’s census showed nine million fewer people in Burma than expected. In 2010, Burma’s Union Electoral Commission (UEC) stated that there were around 29 million enfranchised citizens in Burma, based on an estimated population figure of around 60 million. That has now been revised to 51.4 million.
The National League for Democracy (NLD) says that the surprise result requires that electoral constituencies now be reexamined and potentially redrawn across Burma. The opposition party is calling on the UEC to do so well in advance of next year’s general election.
“The number of enfranchised people in Burma is now very different,” said NLD spokesperson Nyan Win.“Therefore constituencies based on township populations are inaccurate. The changes expected will probably be very large. That is why it is so important to advise voters in advance.”
On 7 September, the UEC cancelled by-elections slated for late November. That leaves 35 parliamentary seats across Burma unfilled until the general election scheduled for late 2015. The NLD welcomed the decision, despite accepting that they expected to win a majority of the 35 seats on offer across the Union upper and lower houses and regional parliaments.
“We’re preparing for the regular [general] election in 2015,” Nyan Win told DVB by telephone on Monday. “That is what is important for the future of Burma.”
The party also confirmed that leader Aung San Suu Kyi was consulted by the UEC before the decision to cancel the by-election was made, and that she agreed it was the right move. Last week the NLD stated, “political parties believe the gap between elections is too close and the campaign rules are inconvenient. By canceling, we feel there is less of a burden on us.”
Minister for Population Khin Yi has advised that full population figures will be publicly available by April next year.