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MYANMAR
Pyithu Hluttaw (House of Representatives)

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GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER

Parliament name (generic / translated) Pyidaungsu Hluttaw / Assembly of the Union
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Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Pyithu Hluttaw / House of Representatives
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Amyotha Hluttaw / House of Nationalities
Affiliation to the IPU Yes
Affiliation date(s) 1948 - 1963 (Burma)
2012 -
LEADERSHIP
President Shwe Mann (M) 
Notes Elected on 31 Jan. 2011.
Secretary General Kyaw Soe (Parliament) (M) 
Tin Win Aung (House of Representatives) (M) 
Notes Mr. Kyaw Soe: Director General of Pyidaungsu Hluttaw
Mr. Tin Win Aung: Director General of Pyithu Hluttaw
COMPOSITION
Members (statutory / current number) 440 / 429
PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN


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Women (current number) 24 (5.59%)
Mode of designation directly elected 330
appointed 110
Notes Appointed members: Not more than 110 members who are Defence Services personnel are nominated by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services.
Term 5 years
Last renewal dates 7 November 2010
(View details)
CONTACT INFORMATION
Address House of Representatives
Yaza Htarni Road
Pyithu Hluttaw
Nay Pyi Taw
Myanmar
(Export mailing lists)
Phone (95) 67 40 90 75 (Parliament Office)
67 59 12 15 (Parliament Office)
67 59 13 38 (House of Representatives)
Fax (95) 67 40 92 39 (Parliament Office)
67 69 54 6 (Parliament Office)
67 59 12 18 (Parliament Office)
67 59 10 85 (House of Representatives)
E-mail kyawsoe.pt@gmail.com
tinwinaung.pt@gmail.com
Website

ELECTORAL SYSTEM

Parliament name (generic / translated) Pyidaungsu Hluttaw / Assembly of the Union
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Pyithu Hluttaw / House of Representatives
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Amyotha Hluttaw / House of Nationalities
LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Electoral law 8 March 2010
Mode of designation directly elected 330
appointed 110
Constituencies 330 single-member constituencies
Voting system Majority: Majority vote with a possible run-off election.
- Elections are held only in the constituencies where there are several candidates. Fresh elections will be organized in case the sole candidate in these constituencies dies.
- The Election Commission may decide not to hold elections in some areas within the constituencies where the situation does not permit it. It may also transfer the polling booth to secure places. However, the elections as a whole are deemed valid if 51% of the voters on the electoral roll turn out at the polls.
- Each voter casts one ballot for a candidate of his/her choice. The candidate with the highest number of valid votes is declared elected. In case of a tie, a run-off election will be held.
- Vacancies are filled through by-elections.
Voting is not compulsory.
Voter requirements - Citizenship of Myanmar and born of both parents who are citizens;
- Age: 18 years or over on election day.
Disqualifications:
- members of religious orders;
- persons serving prison terms;
- persons determined to be and declared of unsound mind by a competent court;
- persons who have not yet been declared free from insolvency;
- persons disqualified by election law.
CANDIDATES
Eligibility - Qualified voters
- Citizenship of Myanmar and born of both parents who are citizens
- Age: 25 years or over
- Residence in the country for at least 10 consecutive years prior to the election. The official period of stay in a foreign country with the permission of the State shall be counted as a residing period in the country.
Ineligibilities:
- Persons serving prison term or persons convicted of an offence,
- Persons of unsound mind
- Persons declared insolvent by a court
- Persons who owe allegiance to a foreign government, subjects of a foreign government, or citizens of a foreign country
- Persons who are entitled to enjoy the rights and privileges of subjects of a foreign government or citizens of a foreign country
- Persons working for an organization owned by a foreign country
- Persons working for an organization that abets the act of inciting, through speech or by issuing a declaration, the decision to vote or not based on religion for political purposes
- Members of a religious order
- Civil servants
- Persons working for State-owned companies
- Persons who have committed electoral offences.
Incompatibilities - Members of the other chamber or regional parliaments.
Candidacy requirements - Candidature submitted by political parties or independent candidates.
- Political parties participating in the elections have to pay 300,000 kyat (US$ 300) to register and 500,000 kyat (US$ 500) for each candidate.
Note:
Myanmar uses two exchange rates: the official rate, which is tied to the Special Drawing Right (SDR, a type of international monetary reserve currency, created by the IMF in 1969) and the free market rate. The equivalent in US$ above has been calculated by applying the free market rate.

LAST ELECTIONS

Parliament name (generic / translated) Pyidaungsu Hluttaw / Assembly of the Union
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Pyithu Hluttaw / House of Representatives
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Amyotha Hluttaw / House of Nationalities
BACKGROUND
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 7 November 2010
Timing and scope of renewal Elections were held for all the seats in the House of Representatives.
The 2010 elections were the first to be held since 1990. The unicameral People's Assembly elected at the time was never convened. The 1990 election results were invalidated by the Electoral Laws enacted in March 2010. At stake in the 2010 elections were all seats in the Assembly of the Union (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw), a bicameral parliament established under the 2008 Constitution and comprising a 440-member House of Representatives (Pyithu Hluttaw) and a 224-member House of Nationalities (Amyotha Hluttaw).

Myanmar gained independence from Britain in 1948 under the name of Burma. It had a parliamentary system of government until the 1962 coup led by General Ne Win. He led the Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) - the only party authorized under his regime - until nationwide massive student-led street protests in August 1988 (known as the 8-8-88 Uprising). Later that same month, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi - the daughter of General Aung San, who had played a major role in the country's independence - addressed a massive rally, calling for democratic government. In September, a military group called the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), led by General Saw Maung, seized power in another coup, bringing the street protests to a bloody end and dissolving the People's Assembly elected in 1985.

The SLORC assumed all the functions performed by the BSPP and General Maung declared himself Prime Minister. The ruling junta and former BSPP members founded the National Unity Party (NUP) in 1988, which was backed by the SLORC. In September, the National League for Democracy (NLD) was established under Ms. Suu Kyi's leadership. The name of the country was changed from Burma to Myanmar in May 1989. Two months later, Ms. Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest. She remained under house arrest through the May 1990 elections.

The May 1990 elections to the 492-member People's Assembly were held under the Electoral Law of May 1989, which allowed the participation of all parties other than the BSPP. Some 2,300 candidates from 93 parties and 87 independents contested 485 parliamentary seats (polling for seven others was cancelled for security reasons). The SLORC promised to turn over power to a civilian government after the newly elected legislature drafted a new constitution. The final results gave a resounding victory to the NLD, which won 392 seats to a mere 10 for the NUP. The Shan National League for Democracy, representing the Shan minority, became the second largest party with 23 seats, followed by the Rakhine Democracy League (also known as the Arakan League for Democracy) with 11 seats. The Mon National Democratic Front (MNDF), representing the Mon community, took five seats and the National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDPHR) four. The remaining 34 seats went to 21 small parties. The SLORC initially conceded this outcome. However, the newly elected People's Assembly was never convened.

In July 1990, the SLORC issued Declaration No. 1/90 stating that it did not accept the formation of a new government under a temporary constitution and that the role of the representatives elected in the 1990 elections would be to draft a new constitution. It added that the SLORC, as a military government, would continue to rule the country under martial law. Later that month, elected NLD candidates adopted a provisional constitution (in line with the 1947 Constitution) to allow for the transfer of power and the convening of the People's Assembly, which the SLORC refused to do. The SLORC instead started a massive campaign of repression and harassment against elected NLD candidates. In December, the NLD agreed to Declaration No. 1/90. However, the repression continued and by 1992, most of the 93 parties that had contested the 1990 elections had been declared illegal. Only 10 parties, including the NLD, remained legal. Several banned parties, including the NDPHR, went into exile. In October 1991, Ms. Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In April 1992, Mr. Maung resigned as both BSPP leader and Prime Minister and was succeeded by General Than Shwe. In January 1993, the latter established the National Convention to draft a new constitution. However, the National Convention's work was suspended in September 1996 after the NLD walked out owing to serious differences over the basic principles to be enshrined in the future constitution. In 1997, the SLORC was transformed into the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), with General Than Shwe as Chairman.

In May 1998, the NLD's call for the People's Assembly to be convened was rejected by the SPDC. In September 1998, the NLD announced that it would form the Committee Representing the People's Parliament (CRPP), which would function on behalf of the People's Assembly until the latter was convened. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) urged its Member Parliaments to support the CRPP. The SPDC's response was to detain 200 elected NLD candidates in order "to maintain law and order".

In 2003, faced with mounting international and national pressure, the junta published the Roadmap to Democracy. In October 2004, Prime Minister Khin Nyunt was dismissed. He was subsequently arrested and sentenced to 44 years in prison in July 2005. He is said to have been in favour of involving Ms. Suu Kyi in the National Convention. General Soe Win succeeded him as Prime Minister. Following his death in October 2007, Mr. Thein Sein assumed the premiership.

In August 2007, pro-democracy activists started demonstrating against the increase in the price of fuel. After the authorities arrested about a dozen activists, the remainder were joined in September by Buddhist monks in Yangon (Rangoon) and other cities. These peaceful demonstrations, the first mass protests since 1988, were brought to an end by military intervention in October, reportedly with the backing of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA). The Ministry of Home Affairs had established the USDA in 1993 as a social organization. It was given a political role in 2002 and its membership of 5 million has been the mass arm of the junta ever since.

In September 2007, the National Convention took the first step under the 2003 Roadmap and laid down the basic principles to be enshrined in the new constitution. The 54-member State Constitution Drafting Commission started work on the draft constitution in December 2007.

In February 2008, the military government announced that it would hold a constitutional referendum in May 2008 and a general election in 2010. It argued that the country should "change from a military government to a democratic civilian administration" based on the "multiparty democratic system" in accordance with the basic constitutional principles agreed by the National Convention in September 2007. The USDA, which held 633 seats (58 per cent) in the National Convention, was tasked with organizing the referendum and the elections.

In May 2008, the draft constitution was approved by a referendum. Although the new Constitution states that Myanmar is to be run by a civilian government headed by an elected president, the army chief remains the most powerful figure: he appoints key ministers and is authorized to assume power "in times of emergency". Key ministries such as justice, defence and the interior are reserved for military officials.

A quarter of the seats in the parliament's two chambers are reserved for military officers, and any constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority. Under the new Constitution, nationals married to a foreigner are barred from running for public office. The provision is widely considered to have been adopted to disqualify Ms. Suu Kyi from running. Having spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest, she was finally released on 13 November 2010.

On 8 March 2010, the SPDC enacted the Electoral Laws (one for each chamber of the Assembly of the Union) and the Political Parties Registration Law. Article 91 of the new Electoral Laws repealed the 1989 Electoral Law and invalidated the 1990 election results, stating that those elections were no longer consistent with the Constitution. The 1989 Electoral Law regulated elections to the then unicameral People's Assembly while the 2008 Constitution provides for a total of 17 Assemblies (national and regional). The Political Parties Registration Law prohibits members of a religious order and convicted persons from being members of a political party. It also stipulates that any existing parties which fail to register with the Election Commission within 60 days from the promulgation of the Law (i.e. before 7 May 2010) are to be disbanded. On 10 March, the junta authorized the reopening of most NLD offices, except for the party's Headquarters in Yangon, which had been closed since 2003.

In late March, the NLD announced that it would boycott the 2010 polls, condemning the Electoral Laws as "unjust". The MNDF also announced that it would boycott the election, along with other parties representing the Mon community. Ms. Suu Kyi is reported to have told senior NLD members not to participate. Pursuant to the Political Parties Registration Law, the NLD was officially dissolved on 14 September. In the meantime, in May, a number of NLD members who believed the NLD should participate formed the National Democratic Force (NDF) under the co-leadership of Mr. Than Nyein and Mr. Khin Maung Swe (see note 1). The NDF argued that the 2010 polls could herald change in the country. It was officially registered as a political party in July. The Union Democracy Party (UDP), another newly formed opposition party led by Mr. Thein Hta, announced its participation as well. The UDP was formed in May 2010 by participants of the 8-8-88 Uprising.

The 2008 Constitution and the 2010 Electoral Laws bar members of the military from running for election. In late April, Prime Minister Thein Sein and 22 other cabinet ministers as well as General Than Shwe retired from the military. No official reasons were given but their resignation would allow them to run for election to parliament as civilians. Shortly after, they applied to register the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) with the Election Commission. In July, the USDA was disbanded and the USDP, led by Prime Minister Thein Sein, took over its functions and assets.

On 13 August, the State-run television announced that the general elections would be held on 7 November. The defunct NLD criticized the junta for organizing the elections only a few days before its leader's scheduled release on 13 November.

In September, the Election Commission announced that there would be no elections in certain conflict zones. The zones in question cover four whole townships controlled by the United Wa State Army (see note 2) and 300 districts spread throughout 32 townships. They account for around 340,000 of the 29 million registered voters.

In all, 37 parties and 82 independents ran in the 2010 elections. At least 11 pro-regime parties, including the USDP and the NUP - formed under the military regime of General Ne Win - were in the race. The USDP and the NUP are reportedly backed by different factions of the military.

Over 3,000 candidates were vying for a total of 1,159 seats in the national and 14 regional parliaments. The USDP and the NUP backed around 1,100 and 1,000 candidates respectively. Bowing to financial constraints, and in order to avoid competition with ethnic parties, the NDF - the largest opposition party - fielded only 163 candidates, mainly in Yangon and Mandalay regions. Some 20 parties representing ethnic minorities participated, but they ran only in a few constituencies where they have substantial populations.

The election campaigns were strictly controlled by the government and media coverage was restricted. Mass rallies were banned and political parties were allowed to make only one radio and one television broadcast (15 minutes each) in which they presented their policy statement. The statement needed to be approved by the authorities in advance. Apart from a few USDP billboards, there was practically no visible campaigning.

Prime Minister Thein Sein (USDP) urged voters to turn out massively, arguing that the "prestige and integrity of all citizens and the State" would depend on the 2010 elections, which would lead to a "democratic new nation in which discipline flourished". The USDP pledged to maintain the current land tenure system under which the State owns land and grants usage rights to citizens.

The USDP's main rival, the NUP, pledged to "fight capitalism" while promising to grant all farmers the right to own the land they cultivate, in an apparent bid to appeal to voters in rural areas.

The NDF called on the voters' support so that it could seize what limited opportunities there were to make their voices heard in the Assembly of the Union. Several independent candidates also underscored that voting in the elections would be the only way to bring about change in a nation repressed by years of military rule. They argued that even if the window of opportunity was small, it should be taken.

In all, 77.26 per cent of the country's 29 million registered voters turned out for the elections to the House of Representatives, while 76.78 per cent voted in elections to the House of Nationalities. After the polling, several attacks by Karen armed groups (see note 3) were reported. Subsequent fighting between the groups and the armed forces forced some 20,000 people to flee to Thailand.

At least six parties, including the NDF, filed complaints with the Election Commission, claiming State workers were forced to vote for the USDP. The NDF accused the USDP of "widespread fraud", an allegation that the USDP denied.

The country allowed no foreign journalists or international observers to be present at the polling stations. It instead invited all foreign diplomats in the country on a group visit to selected polling stations. Some 20 diplomats - mainly from South-east Asia - accepted the invitation, while a number of western diplomats declined.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that the voting was held in conditions that were "insufficiently inclusive, participatory and transparent". He urged the Myanmar authorities to demonstrate that the 2010 elections would be part of "a credible transition towards democratic government, national reconciliation and respect for human rights".

The USDP took 259 of the 326 elective seats in the House of Representatives (elections were not held in four constituencies) and 129 of the 168 elective seats in the House of Nationalities. The NUP took 12 and five seats respectively. Four pro-government parties took a total of eight seats in the House of Representatives and four seats in the House of Nationalities (see note 4). The NDF won eight and four seats respectively. Two ethnic parties fared well: the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party took 18 and three seats respectively, while the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party took nine and seven seats respectively. In all, 14 women were elected to the House of Representatives, while six were elected to the House of Nationalities.

On 31 January 2011, the new parliament was convened for the first time. The House of Representatives elected Mr. Shwe Mann - the third most powerful general in the Junta - as its Speaker while the House of Nationalities elected the incumbent Minister of Culture, Mr. Khin Aung Myint, as its Speaker. The convening of both chambers of the Assembly of Union effectively restored the country's parliament, which had not functioned since its unconstitutional dissolution in September 1988.

On 4 February, the Presidential Electoral College (see note 5) elected former prime minister Thein Sein (USDP) as President of the country. His 30-member cabinet was approved on 11 February. The cabinet included only four civilians. Most cabinet members were former officers who had retired from the military in order to run in the 2010 elections.

Note 1:
Mr. Than Nyein - brother-in-law of former prime minister Khin Nyunt - was a founding member of the NLD and a member of its Central Executive Committee (CEC). In 2008, he was released after 11 years in prison along with Mr. Khin Maung Swe, a fellow CEC member who had spent a total of 16 years in prison since 1990. Neither of them contested the 2010 elections, the former for health reasons, the latter owing to indications that the Election Commission would bar him because he had been convicted of high treason in connection with his NLD activities.

Note 2:
The United Wa State Army is the largest ethnic armed group in the country. Although a cease-fire agreement between the government, the United Wa State Army and the National Democratic Alliance Army (formerly known as the Kokang Democracy Party) had been in place since 1989, sporadic clashes have been reported. In August 2009, the government crackdown on these two ethnic armies triggered the flight of 10,000 refugees into China.

Note 3:
On 2 November 2010, six major armed opposition groups, including the Karen National Union (KNU), gathered in Mae Hong Son on the Thai side of the border and formed an alliance against the government armed forces, which had threatened to further tighten their control. The six groups represent the Karen ethnic group, which accounts for around seven per cent of the country's 50 million inhabitants and is present primarily in southern and south-eastern Myanmar. The Karen have been working towards an independent State since before Burma gained independence from Britain in 1948.

Note 4:
The four pro-government parties are Pa-O National Organisation, Palaung National Party, Wa Democratic Party and the Unity and Democracy Party of Kachin State.

Note 5:
The Presidential Electoral College is composed of three groups: (a) elected members of the House of Representatives, (b) elected members of the House of Nationalities and (c) appointed members of both chambers. Each group elects a Vice-President (who does not have to be a parliamentarian). The Presidential Electoral College then elects one of the three Vice-Presidents as the President. The candidate who wins the highest number of votes takes the presidency, while the two others remain as Vice-Presidents.
STATISTICS
Voter turnout
Round no 17 November 2010
Number of registered electors
Voters
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
29'021'608
22'421'123 (77.26%)
1'555'962
20'865'161
Notes
Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political group Candidates Votes % of votes
Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)
Shan Nationalities Democratic Party
National Unity Party (NUP)
Rakhine Nationalities Development Party
National Democratic Force (NDF)
All Mon Regions Democracy Party
Pa-O National Organisation
Chin National Party
Wa Democratic Party
Unity and Democracy Party of Kachin State
Chin Progressive Party
Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party
Parti national palaung
Independents
Inn Nationalities Development Party
Kayin People's Party
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total of seats
Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) 259
Shan Nationalities Democratic Party 18
National Unity Party (NUP) 12
Rakhine Nationalities Development Party 9
National Democratic Force (NDF) 8
All Mon Regions Democracy Party 3
Pa-O National Organisation 3
Chin National Party 2
Wa Democratic Party 2
Unity and Democracy Party of Kachin State 2
Chin Progressive Party 2
Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party 2
Parti national palaung 1
Independents 1
Inn Nationalities Development Party 1
Kayin People's Party 1
Distribution of seats according to sex
Men

Women

Percent of women
421

14

3.22%
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Comments
Note on the 2012 by-elections:
The 2010 elections were not held in five townships in Shan State, leaving five seats vacant. As at 31 January 2011, there were 14 women out of a total of 435 members. Thirty-eight members were subsequently appointed to the government, one member passed away and another ceased to be a member of the House of Representatives, resulting in an additional 40 vacant seats.

In November 2011, President Thein Sein signed the amendments to the Political Party Registration Law. They paved the way for Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which had been dissolved in September 2010, to register once again as a political party. In December, the Election Commission accepted the NLD's application and announced that by-elections would be held on 1 April 2012.

All 40 vacant seats were to be filled through the by-elections. However, in late March 2012, the Election Commission postponed the elections in three constituencies in the northernmost Kachin state for security reasons. The by-elections were thus held to fill 37 vacant seats in the House of Representatives (and six in House of Nationalities as well as two in the regional assemblies).

The NLD won all 37 seats at stake in the House of Representatives. Twelve women were elected. Before the end of the extraordinary session on 2 May 2012, 34 of them had been sworn in.
On 4 July, the remaining three NLD members (one woman and two men) were sworn in.

As at 24 July 2012, there were 26 women out of a total of 431 members, with nine vacant seats: five from the 2010 elections, three from the 2012 by-elections and one seat left vacant by a member who passed away.

Sources:
- House of Representatives (20.01.2012, 08.05.2012, 24.07.2012, 01.01.2014)
- Notification No. 143/2010 of the Union Election Commission, published in the New Light of Myanmar, 8 Dec. 2010.
- Permanent Mission of the Union of Myanmar in Geneva (17.12.2010, 31.03.2010)
- http://networkmyanmar.org/

This page was last updated on 31 January 2014
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