RANGOON — The two strongest performing ethnic parties in Sunday’s poll have expressed a desire to collaborate with the next government, but acknowledge that any coalition arrangement will hinge on the magnanimity of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the aftermath of that party’s emphatic victory.
Based on preliminary results, both the Arakan National Party (ANP) and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) have fared much better than their ethnic party counterparts in other states across Burma.
The ANP believes it will form the next government in Arakan State, predicting wins in 25 of the state parliament’s 47 seats. Despite party chair Dr. Aye Maung losing the contest for the state seat of Munaung No. 2 to NLD rival Boe Nwe, the party also looks on track to pick up the majority of Arakan’s Union constituencies.
In an interview last week, Aye Maung told Myanmar Now that he considered the NLD his party’s natural ally, a stance echoed on Thursday by ANP patron Aye Thar Aung.
“Our policy is federalism, the same as the NLD. We are willing to be their allies,” he said, adding that he understood any coalition offer was unlikely with the NLD a certainty to have the power to form government in its own right.
Before the campaign period began, NLD patron Tin Oo met with members of the Committee Representing the People’s Parliament (CRPP), an NLD-founded umbrella group to represent the interests of parties elected in the nullified 1990 election. After the meeting, attended by members of the Arakan League for Democracy and SNLD, those present said that the discussion did not produce any specific promises relating to the next government.
A number of ethnic parties were incensed when the NLD announced its candidate list in August, revealing that the party planned to contest in almost every state and Union ethnic constituency across the country.
Though the SNLD had been officially declared the winner in 27 state and 15 Union seats by Thursday at 6pm, party secretary Sai Nyunt Lwin said he doubted the NLD would offer to draft rival party figures into the next administration.
“The NLD’s huge wave broke us,” he said. “I think there will no longer be an offer to other parties because they can form government on their own.”
Win Myint, a member of the NLD’s central executive committee, said when asked of a possible coalition on Thursday that leader Aung San Suu Kyi considered national reconciliation the party’s first priority. He declined to say whether or not the NLD would consider a request for a coalition government from ethnic parties.
The Nationalities Brotherhood Federation (NBF), a coalition of 23 ethnic parties which all fared poorly in Sunday’s poll, is fearful that the NLD’s dominance in state and Union parliaments will lead to a lack of consideration for ethnic issues.
“The upcoming parliamentary scene will be dominated by one party,” said Saw Than Myint, an NBF central committee member. “We worry about the emergence of an authoritarianism. Every (democratic) country has at least two parties and a one party system always leads to an authoritarian system. I hope that will not happen.”