Pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won 43 out of the 44 parliamentary seats it contested in Sunday’s by-elections, state television announced late on Tuesday.
The NLD now becomes the made main opposition group in Burma’s Union Parliament despite having only around five percent of the total seats, according to an official statement by the nation’s Election Commission.
Suu Kyi herself won the deprived constituency of Khawmu Township, south of Rangoon. The Nobel laureate will be able to take her rightful place in the legislative body 22 years after she recorded a landmark victory in the 1990 general elections—a result the military junta refused to honor.
The 66-year-old said during her victory speech outside the NLD headquarters in the former capital on Monday that she hoped the vote would mark a “new era” for the nation after decades of repressive junta rule.
“The success we are having is the success of the people,” Suu Kyi said. “It is not so much our triumph as a triumph of the people who have decided that they have to be involved in the political process in this country.”
The NLD have claimed 37 seats in the 440-member Lower House, four in the Upper House and two in regional chambers.
Despite the overwhelming nature of the NLD’s by-election victory, the party will struggle to influence the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) led by former regime generals.
The nation’s controversial 2008 Constitution safeguards 25 percent of parliamentary seats for the military, with more than 75 percent of the legislature required to pass any amendment to its statutes.
The NLD’s sole loss was in eastern Shan State where the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party claimed victory largely due to its huge support among the area’s ethnic minorities. This comes despite Suu Kyi herself receiving a large proportion of ethnic Karen votes in her own constituency.
The USDP managed to claim a sole victory out of the 45 constituencies being contested—a seat in northwest Sagaing Division where the NLD candidate had been disqualified.
President Thein Sein hailed the weekend ballot as positive.
“The election was held successfully,” the former general told reporters during a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Burma will assume chair of the bloc in 2014.
Critics believe that Thein Sein’s nominally civilian administration was prepared to accept Suu Kyi and a minority of her party colleagues in Parliament in a bid to ease crippling Western economic sanctions against Burma.