Taunggyi, Shan State
#15 | May 26, 2010
Current Seats
4 အမျိုးသားလွှတ်တော်, 18 ပြည်သူ့လွှတ်တော်, 36 Regional

The Shan Nationalities Democratic Party ran for more than 100 seats in Burma’s 2010 general election and won 57. It also won a seat in the 2012 by-election, the only party to win a contest other than the National League for Democracy (NLD), which dominated the poll. The SNDP claims to have a membership of nearly 500,000 people and is fielding more than 200 candidates across 67 townships in the coming election.

This year the party goes head to head with the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), as well as Burma’s two biggest parties—the NLD and ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party—and several others fighting for seats in ethnically diverse Shan State and beyond. The SNDP was formed to contest Burma’s 2010 election after the SNLD boycotted the poll.

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 parties will likely split a fair share of the ballots from ethnic Shan voters on Nov. 8.

Like most ethnic minority parties, the SNDP supports the creation of a federal system of governance that includes decentralization of power and a resource-sharing framework between regional and central governments. In an interview with The Irrawaddy, the chairman said addressing land-grabbing would be a top priority for the party, as would lobbying for a constitutional amendment to allow state and divisional legislatures to elect their chief minister, another commonly held position among ethnic parties.

* States and divisions in red indicate that the party is fielding candidates at the Union or regional level in that jurisdiction.

Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) Flag
Major Players
  • Sai Aik Pao

    The party chairman is the current mines and forestry minister of the Shan State government. This year he is running for the Upper House seat known as Shan State-4.

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

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Party Politics

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