Military officers were among the voters who swept the National League for Democracy (NLD) to a landslide victory in Sunday’s elections, party insiders say.
Towns with military populations from technical units such as engineers, medic battalions and the air forces were most likely to have voted for Suu Kyi’s party, according to NLD campaign groups.
In Mandalay Division’s Meikhtila, where there is an air base, the NLD lost in all military poll stations but often by as little as 25%.
“We lost the voting in all military poll stations – but at those for technical units such as the engineering and air force battalions, we only had a one-third vote difference with the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). For example, we would get about 200 votes when the USDP got 300,” explained NLD representative Tin Ko.
Ye Myint Thein, NLD campaign member in Shan State’s Aungban, said the party lost at a poll station at the town’s 700-bed military hospital with only a 50% vote difference.
“The USDP won 329 and we won 158. And those are from educated voters – such as doctors and warrant officers – indicating different preferences between the ranks,” said Ye Myint Hein.
Tin Ko said the party didn’t win a lot of votes from common foot soldiers, adding that most of these poll stations were supervised by their commanding officers, who pressured them to vote for the USDP.
“There were huge differences in turnout at the infantry poll station, as all these stations were supervised by army commanding officers and we assume they pressured the privates to vote for the USDP.”
There were rumours that personnel at the Air Defence Battalion 1016 in Naypyidaw were ordered by their battalion’s commander to vote only for the USDP.
NLD campaigner Mu Mu Khine said that votes by troops under the 101st Light Infantry Division in Magwe Division’s Pakokku were collected in advance by the USDP while they were on the frontline.
“I asked the privates and they said they just got back from the frontline on 25 March to find out their votes were already collected in advance,” said Mu Mu Khine.
Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD won a historic victory in Sunday’s elections, so far securing 40 out the 45 contested seats. Votes for the final five seats are still being counted.