CHEAT SHEET: All the questions you want answered about Myanmar's election - and why it matters.

Not sure what all the fuss is over the election in Myanmar? Then read on.

Former political prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize winner,  Aung San Suu Kyi  (pronounced Ahng Sahn Soo Chee – if you’ve been saying it wrong you’re not alone – US President Barack Obama stuffed it up when meeting Ms Suu Kyi in 2012) is poised to achieve a landslide victory in Myanmar’s national elections.

So why does this matter? 

It’s huge news because Myanmar’s been ruled by a military junta, that even changed the country’s name (it used to be Burma), and then a government propped up by that junta, since 1962.

Ms Suu Kyi’s opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won over 90 per cent of the seats in the first tranche of official results, and the party’s own tally predicts wins for the NLD in over 70 per cent of seats.

What does the win mean for the rest of the region?

If the NLD is able to form government, this will be the first elected non-military government in more than 50 years.

It’s a big step forward for the south-east Asian nation, bordered by China, Thailand, Laos, India and Bangladesh.

Although the military junta allowed elections in 1990 which saw the NLD elected, the ballot didn’t lead to democratic rule. Instead Aung San Suu Kyi was famously placed under house arrest, where she remained for 20 years.

So what’s different this time?

After an election in 2010 that was not contested by opposition parties the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party government took the reins in 2011.


The road to this year’s contested elections has been rocky. Last week, Ms Suu Kyi cautioned that the coming ballot would be neither free nor fair.

But in the aftermath of the election, which appears to have delivered the NLD a landslide victory, the USDP seems to be prepared to accept the results.

Despite the slow release of official results, ruling USDP acting chairman Htay Oo said the USDP had “a higher percentage of losses than wins”.

Still, even after this election, the military will be able to exert some control over the political process, with 25 per cent of the parliament reserved for the military, as well as some key ministerial positions and the power of veto over constitutional change.

But Suu Kyi will not be president? 

She might be the most recognisable figure on Myanmar’s political scene, (and perhaps one of the most recognisable politicians in the world) but Aung San Suu Kyi is barred by Myanmar’s 2008 constitution from becoming president, even if her party wins.

The constitution, written by the military junta, says the president cannot have children who hold allegiance to foreign powers, and Ms Suu Kyi’s two sons have British passports.

Instead, Ms Suu Kyi has said that she will lead without taking on the top job.

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