National League for Democracy

National League for Democracy
အမျိုးသား ဒီမိုကရေစီ အဖွဲ့ချုပ်
Abbreviation NLD
Chairman (နာယက) Tin Oo
President (ဥက္ကဋ္ဌ) Aung San Suu Kyi
Founder Tin Oo, Kyi Maung, Aung San Suu Kyi, Aung Gyi, Aung Shwe
Founded 27 September 1988 (1988-09-27)
Headquarters 97B West Shwe Gon Daing Road, Bahan Township, Yangon, Myanmar[1]
Ideology Democratic socialism[2]
Liberal democracy
Political position Centre-left
Regional affiliation Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (observer)
International affiliation Socialist International[3]
Progressive Alliance[4]
Colours Red
Seats in the House of Nationalities
135 / 224
Seats in the House of Representatives
255 / 440
Seats in the State and Regional Hluttaws
476 / 850
Ethnic Affairs Ministers
21 / 29
Party flag

The National League for Democracy (Burmese: အမျိုးသား ဒီမိုကရေစီ အဖွဲ့ချုပ်, IPA: [ʔəmjóðá dìmòkəɹèsì ʔəpʰwḛdʑoʊʔ]; abbreviated NLD) is a democratic socialist and liberal democratic political party in Myanmar (Burma), currently serving as the governing party. Founded on 27 September 1988, it has become one of the most influential parties in Myanmar's pro-democracy movement. Special Honorary President of the Socialist International[5][6] and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi serves as its President and she is currently serving as State Counsellor of Myanmar. The party won a substantial parliamentary majority in the 1990 Burmese general election. However, the ruling military junta refused to recognise the result. On 6 May 2010, the party was declared illegal and ordered to be disbanded by the junta after refusing to register for the elections slated for November 2010.[7] In November 2011, the NLD announced its intention to register as a political party to contend future elections and on 13 December 2011, Burma's Union Election Commission approved their application for registration.[8]

In the 2012 by-elections, the NLD contested 44 of the 45 available seats; winning 43, and losing only one seat to the SNDP.[9] Party leader Aung San Suu Kyi won from the seat of Kawhmu.[10]

In the 2015 general election, the NLD won a supermajority in both houses of the Assembly, paving the way for the country's first non-military president in 54 years.


The NLD was formed in the aftermath of the 8888 Uprising, a series of protests in favour of democracy which took place in 1988 and was ended when the military took control of the country in a coup. It formed under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, a pivotal figure in the Burmese independence movement of the 1940s. She was recruited by concerned democracy advocates.

In the 1990 parliamentary elections, the party took 59% of the vote and won 392 out of 492 contested seats, compared to 10 seats won by the governing National Unity Party.[11] However, the ruling military junta (formerly SLORC, later known as the State Peace and Development Council or SPDC) did not let the party form a government.[12] Soon after the election, the party was repressed and in 1989 Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest. This was her status for 16 of the following 21 years until her release on 13 November 2010. A number of senior NLD members escaped arrest, however, and formed the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB).

In 2001, the government permitted NLD office branches to re-open throughout Burma and freed some imprisoned members.[13] In May 2002, NLD's general secretary, Aung San Suu Kyi was again released from house arrest. She and other NLD members made numerous trips throughout the country and received support from the public. However, on their trip to Depayin township in May 2003, dozens of NLD members were shot and killed in a military sponsored massacre. Its general secretary, Aung San Suu Kyi and Party's Vice President, U Tin Oo were again arrested.[14]

From 2004, the government prohibited the activities of the party. In 2006, many members resigned from NLD, citing harassment and pressure from the Tatmadaw (Armed Forces) and the Union Solidarity and Development Association. In October 2008, following the crackdown on the aftermath of the Saffron Revolution a bomb exploded in the Htan Chauk Pin quarter of the Shwepyitha Township of Yangon, near the office of the military junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Association killing one.[15] The victim was identified as Thet Oo Win, a former Buddhist monk who participated in the Saffron Revolution, was killed while improvising the bomb at his own residence.[16] The junta blamed the National League for Democracy party of planting that bomb, but experts believed at the the time that the opposition was not in a position to carry out such acts amidst the tightly controlled security environment.[16] The junta detained several members of the party in connection with the bombings that year.[17]

The NLD boycotted the general election held in November 2010 because many of its most prominent members were barred from standing. The laws were written in such a way that the party would have had to expel these members to be allowed to run. This decision, taken in May, led to the party being officially banned.[7] A splinter group named the National Democratic Force broke away from the NLD to contest the elections,[18] but secured less than 3% of the vote. The election was won in a landslide by the military-backed USDP and was described by Barack Obama as "stolen".[19]

Discussions were held between Suu Kyi and the Burmese government during 2011, which led to a number of official gestures to meet her demands. In October, around a tenth of Burma's political prisoners were freed in an amnesty and trade unions were legalised.[20][21]

On 18 November 2011, following a meeting of its leaders, the NLD announced its intention to re-register as a political party in order contend 48 by-elections necessitated by the promotion of parliamentarians to ministerial rank.[22] Following the decision, Suu Kyi held a telephone conference with Barack Obama, in which it was agreed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would make a visit to Burma, a move received with caution by Burma's ally China.[23] The visit took place on 30 November.[24] European Union vice-president Catherine Ashton welcomed the possibility of "fair and transparent" elections in Burma, and said that the EU would be reviewing its foreign policy towards the country.[25]

The party was criticised for discouraging Muslim candidates during preparations for the 2015 elections, a step seen as related to its desire to keep good relations with hardline Buddhist monks such as the Ma Ba Tha association.[26]

Party platform

National League for Democracy's headquarters in Yangon (before reconstruction)

The party advocates a non-violent movement towards multi-party democracy in Burma, under military rule from 1962 to 2011.[27] The party also supports human rights (including broad-based freedom of speech), the rule of law, and national reconciliation.[28]

In a speech of 13 March 2012, Suu Kyi demanded, in addition to the above, independence of the judiciary, full freedom for the media, and increasing social benefits to include legal aid.

She also claimed amendments to the constitution of 2008, drafted with the input of the armed forces. She stated that its mandatory granting of 25 per cent of seats in parliament to appointed military representatives is undemocratic.[29]

Party symbols

The party flag features the peacock, a prominent symbol of Burma. The dancing peacock (the peacock in courtship or in display of his feathers) was frequently featured in Burmese monarchic flags as well as other nationalist symbols in the country.[30] The fighting peacock is associated with the decades-long democratic struggle against military dictatorship in the country. The latter closely resembles a green peafowl, as it has a tufted crest. The NLD party symbol is adopted from the Myanmar (Burmese) Student Union flag. This student union organised since the uprising against British colonial rule in Burma, years before the independence of Burma in 1948, had played a major political role in Burma and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's late father Bogyoke Aung San (General Aung San) was one of the former presidents of the Rangoon University Student Union.

The party emblem is a traditional bamboo hat (ခမောက်).[31]

Election results

House of Nationalities (Amyotha Hluttaw)

Election Total seats won Total votes Share of votes Outcome of election Note Election leader
0 / 224
Boycotted Aung San Suu Kyi
4 / 224
Increase 4 Opposition Aung San Suu Kyi
135 / 224
Increase 131 Majority government Aung San Suu Kyi

House of Representatives (Pyithu Hluttaw)

Election Total seats won Total votes Share of votes Outcome of election Note Election leader
392 / 492
7,930,841 52.5% Increase 392 Not recognised Aung San Suu Kyi
0 / 440
Boycotted Aung San Suu Kyi
37 / 440
Increase 37 Opposition Aung San Suu Kyi
255 / 440
12,794,561 57.1% Increase 218 Majority government Aung San Suu Kyi

State and Regional Hluttaws

Election Total seats won Total votes Share of votes Outcome of election Note Election leader
476 / 850
Increase 474 Aung San Suu Kyi


  • Houtman, Gustaaf. Daigaku, Tōkyō Gaikokugo. Kenkyūjo, Ajia Afurika Gengo Bunka. Mental culture in Burmese crisis politics: Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy. ILCAA, 1999. ISBN 978-4-87297-748-6.


  1. Frangos, Alex; Patrick Barta (30 March 2012). "Once-Shunned Quarters Becomes Tourist Mecca". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  2. "Leftist Parties of Myanmar".
  3. "Socialist International - Progressive Politics For A Fairer World".
  4. "Participants".
  5. "Socialist International - Progressive Politics For A Fairer World".
  7. 1 2 "National League for Democracy disbanded in Myanmar". Haiti News. 4 May 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  8. Suu Kyi's Myanmar opposition party wins legal status, The Associated Press, 13 December 2011
  9. "It is the victory of the people: Aung San Suu Kyi on Myanmar – World News – IBNLive". 10 May 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  10. "The disappearing virtual library – Opinion". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  11. Houtman, Daigaku & Kenkyūjo, 1999, p. 1
  12. Junta must free Burma's leading lady, The Australian, 19 May 2009
  13. Burma's Confidence Building and Political Prisoners, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
  14. "The Depayin Massacre: Two years on, Justice denied" (PDF). Asean Inter-parliamentary Myanmar caucus. 30 May 2005. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  15. "One Dead in Burma Blasts". Radio Free Asia. AFP. 20 October 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  16. 1 2 "Increasing bomb blasts worry Rangoon residents – Zarni & Mungpi" (1). BurmaNet News. Mizzima News. 21 October 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  17. "Agence France Presse: Myanmar blast victim was ex-monk turned bombmaker: state media". BurmaNet News. AFP. 21 October 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  18. "New Burmese opposition party to contest election". London: The Guardian. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  19. "15,000 flee Burma in post-election violence". CBC News. 8 November 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  20. "Burma frees dozens of political prisoners". BBC News. 12 October 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  21. "Burma law to allow labour unions and strikes". BBC News. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  22. "Suu Kyi's NLD democracy party to rejoin Burma politics". BBC News. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  23. Whitlock, Craig (19 November 2011). "U.S. sees Burma reforms as strategic opening to support democracy". Washington Post. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  24. "'Hopeful' Hillary Clinton starts Burma visit". BBC News. 30 November 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
  25. "EU hails Myanmar moves, reviewing policy". Reuters. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  26. News, Jonah Fisher BBC. "Aung San Suu Kyi's party excludes Muslim candidates". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-01-03.
  27. "Aung San Suu Kyi released". CBC News. 13 November 2010.
  28. "Suu Kyi calls for talks with junta leader". CBC News. 14 November 2010.
  29. "Burma flag and emblems". Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  30. Hla Tun, Aung (3 July 2010). "Burmese democrats fall out over bamboo hat symbol". The Independent. London. Retrieved 19 November 2011.

External links

See also

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