Current Political Scenario in MyanmarPolitical scenario in Myanmar
Myanmar's changing political party landscape
It may have never occurred to Washington that Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of the Myanmar Movement, would one of these days reign as Myanmar's de facto head. Admittedly, Suu Kyi and the administration led by her NaLD (NLD) are facing many political challenges: steering her roll as a supermajority in both Pyihtaungsu Hluttaw (Parliament of the Union) buildings; working with opposing political groups to pass laws that are crucial for achieving domestic peace; and pursuing the nation's progress in the economy.
With a view to the parliamentary election in 2020, the big political powers are competing for a dominating role in the country's immature policies. As long as Aung San Suu Kyi remains in Myanmar's political life, the NLD will more or less continue to be the dominating political group. It would be wrong to think that after five years in office, it will maintain the 76% of the votes it received in the historical Myanmar election in November 2015.
NLD's centralised central committee (CEC), which takes a top-down view, has resulted in several splits in the parties' lines, especially between the central and local branches. Moreover, there may be a change in the way the political parties think after they have actually been given the opportunity to rule. Your new position as CEO is very different from your many years in activism and then as an opponent (2012-2015).
The continuing struggles between the Myanmar army and the Shan, Kachin, Ta'an and other militarized communities mean that there will be a greater representation in those electoral districts for the members of the grassroots parties of their states and division, in supplement to the Nay Pyi Taw state and division. There has always been a pronounced anti-Burman mood among racial groups, a rarity with the November 2015 elections.
The reason for this exemption is that they realized that the NLD nominees (most of whom are Burmese) were not necessarily their first election but many more busy with the need to build a political power that could beat the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The NLD was the only way to make effective changes, and the NLD was the only one with the capacity to perform a job of this size.
We have two ways in which this scenario can develop in the run-up to 2020 - both lead to a similar result. Unless there is a genuine shift in standards from one ethnical block to another, the electorate will be frustrated by the National Democratic People' s Republic and will of course be willing to join a nomad.
When there are indeed tangible changes and a smaller militarised representation, whether in daily government or through a significant decrease in guerrilla fighting, the priorities of racial constituents would probably move from safety to self-interest, which was not a NLD policy issue. They would rather choose as such in the case of political parties of the same race and, in many cases, in the case of religious affiliation.
However, all indications are that more ethnical representation and coalition will be formed in Myanmar's parliament after 2020. With the USDP's significant failure during the last electoral campaign, the USDP has undertaken some domestic restructurings that have pushed many of its dominant political personalities such as Thein Sein, Htay Oo and Khin Yi into the background.
Regardless of this, the USDP will always be seen as the political side of the army in the general population. With a view to a win in 2020, it would be wise for the USDP to have this reputation instead of abandoning it. The commitment of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and the cooperation with Aung San Suu Kyi have started to influence popular sentiment in favour of the war.
He has also made the USDP and the army more attractive through alliances. That does not mean that the anti-military mood in Myanmar has eased over night, especially in ethnical areas. However, for more than half of Myanmar's people, that is Burma, and among a more conservative multitude who prefer stable over democratic and powerful over charismatic, the Min Aung Hlaing army will retain its backing.
When he retires from the army in 2020, a leading position within the USDP is almost unavoidable. Then the USDP could possibly gain the above mentioned electoral basis, even if a large part of it would vote for the NLD in 2015. Myanmar's Thura Shwe Mann's part in Myanmar policy should not be overlooked.
The European Parliament's Parliament's Commission responsible for judicial matters and specific cases has a major part to play behind the curtains of the Union's Parliament. She gives Shwe Mann a huge impact and acts as an informal "rest stop" for his close associates (former USDP and former army men) waiting for political appointment. In view of his closeness to Aung San Suu Kyi, Shwe Mann was willing to take a leading position in Myanmar's new government, but Nay Pyi Taw insider say there has been a rebound from some of the NLD's senior members of the NCL.
It was a pivotal factor in his possible collapse when he was forcibly expelled from the USDP. His current stance does not allow him to rise to the higher echelons of either of the two great parties, the NLD or the USDP. However, he still has considerable political assets among his mighty coalition partners, who have also been expelled from the USDP.
It will also retain control over certain fractions of the army from its days as lieutenant general. In view of his stance, he could even found a new political group. The 88 generations of leaders Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Ko Gyi and Aung Thu may appear to have withdrawn from the political arena since 2015.
It would be too early, however, to exclude their capacity to celebrate a political return in the shape of a well-organised 88-green student government with a young audience at its heart. During the last electoral round, many of the eminent 88 Generations who were seeking elective power expected to run under the NLD banner.
Without a "Plan B", some of them started as independents and got themselves killed by the party-oriented political system. Now, as they had a chance to recover and better reconnect with the electorate through their current work in civic societies, the 88s have grown together as a trustworthy political group.
Myanmar shows the rise of a strong political faction community among the groups fighting to unite powerful supporters and mobilise electoral blocks. In spite of the sound sales that President Thein Sein presented in 2016 for the pacific handover of powers to the National Liberation Front, the countrys civil-military relationships, continuing ethnical and race stability and restrictions on the constitutionality of democracy continue to be strained.
If the NLD stays at the top of the elections paradigm or not, political parties' internal political rivalry within the lawful limits sets important democratically precedent and further reinforces Myanmar's political institution. When one thing is clear from the last ten years of political transformation, the question of what will happen before the parliamentary elections in 2020 will remain open.
is a Myanmar freelance consultant based in Washington, DC. Previously he worked for the Inle Advisory Group and Pyithu Hluttaw (Myanmar's House of Commons).