Mayangon Township, Rangoon
#56 | June 12, 2012
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Contested Seats
14 Upper, 48 Lower, 92 Regional

The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy claims to have more than 40,000 members and has established 82 branch offices across Shan State, and in some Mandalay Division and Karenni State locations, with plans to open additional branches in Kachin State. Among more than 140 candidates that the party is fielding this year, two are seeking the Shan ethnic affairs minister posts in Kachin State and Mandalay Division.

Established in 1988, the SNLD won the largest number of seats after the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Burma’s 1990 election, the results of which were ignored by the former military regime. Much of the party’s leadership has spent time in jail after its decision not to rejoin a National Convention called to draft the country’s 2008 Constitution.
This year the party goes head to head with the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), as well as Burma’s two main parties—the NLD and ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party—and several others fighting for seats in hardscrabble Shan State and beyond. The SNDP was formed to contest Burma’s 2010 general election, which the SNLD boycotted.

Burma’s two main Shan parties discussed a merger last year, with the SNLD secretary telling The Irrawaddy that “the Shan people want us to work together.” An agreement, apparently, could not be reached, meaning the two parties will likely split a fair share of the ballots from ethnic Shan voters on Nov. 8.

The SNLD says it will strive for the establishment of a democratic federal union, and focus its efforts on amending the Constitution and rolling back unjust laws and regulations. It will prioritize ensuring free basic health care and education for all, with the latter based on mother-tongue instruction.

* States and divisions in red indicate that the party is fielding candidates at the Union or regional level in that jurisdiction. In addition to the 156 seats the party is contesting in state and divisional legislatures, it is fielding candidates for two ethnic affairs minister posts to serve in regional governments' cabinets.

Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) Flag
Major Players
  • Khun Htun Oo

    The SNLD chairman will not seek election in November.

  • Sai Saw Aung

    The party's vice chairman will also abstain from the 2015 race.

Burma’s main opposition party is fielding ethnic candidates in their native states in an effort to ensure success outside the Burman-majority heartlands.
Amid the hype and optimism surrounding this historic event, the aspirations of many ethnic communities will remain unfulfilled unless fundamental, structural, institutional changes in governance take place.
- Burma Partnership, a Thailand-based advocacy group, in a report on ethnic politics released ahead of the election

No Election Watershed for Ethnic Minorities: Report

Research finds that for ethnic minorities, Burma’s much-anticipated election will do little to remedy decades-extant political, economic and social grievances, regardless of its outcome.

Nearly 6,200 Parliament Hopefuls File to Contest Election

A whopping 6,189 candidates apply to contest the nearly 1,200 seats up for grabs between the Union Parliament and regional legislatures in Burma’s general election.

Senior SNLD Leaders to Forgo Shot at Parliament

Five leaders of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy won’t contest Burma’s election, saying they will instead work outside Parliament to achieve their political goals.
Party Politics

Political Parties Sign Election Code of Conduct

Nearly 70 of Burma’s political parties sign an election Code of Conduct aimed at ensuring ethical electioneering in the lead up to the historic vote.

Suu Kyi, Ethnic Alliance Agree to Push 3-Point Agenda

An umbrella group of ethnic political parties meets with Aung San Su Kyi and agrees to work with the opposition leader to push a three-item agenda for Burma’s political future.