From July 16-26, Myanmar’s Union Election Commission will vet 69 people who have filed for eligibility for a by-election that will take place on November 3, the Yangon-based multimedia group the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) reported on Thursday.
Thirteen seats are up for grabs in national and regional assemblies, and those who want to contest the elections come from 24 political parties or are independents.
Since the National League for Democracy (NLD) won a general election in November 2015 and took office in April 2016, the first by-election was held in April last year.
At that time, there were 12 vacant seats in the lower and upper houses of parliament and seven in regional legislatures. The NLD won nine of those seats while two went to the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, six to the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, and local parties in Rakhine and Kayah states secured one seat each.
The performance of the regional parties in 2017 showed that ethnic politics is a factor to be reckoned with in Myanmar. This time, nearly all the seats that have to be filled are in the Bamar-dominated heartland, so it will be an indication of how much support the NLD government has managed to retain after two and a half years in office.
Despite fierce international criticism over the NLD government’s handling of the Rohingya refugee crisis, issues related to economic growth are seen as more important than any kind of ethnic politics.