Two elections

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Elections this November took place in two countries that are geographically far apart, and have practically nothing in common. But the results were in both cases as expected, although due to widely different reasons.

In the case of the national elections — the first in 20 years — in Burma (officially Myanmar; the ruling military junta changed the country’s name in 1989), almost 95 percent of the 1,157 contested seats for the bicameral parliament were won by the main political party backed by the junta, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), with the rest of the seats being won by other junta- friendly parties. One opposition party that contested the elections won 16 seats, another, three.

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Burma on the edge

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A lethal combination of the worst natural disaster to ever afflict it and an inefficient, uncaring military government focused on staying in power is ravaging Burma. But the same mix could lead to the regime change that the ruling junta has managed to prevent since 1988.

Burma has been under military rule since 1962, after decades of British colonial rule. It is listed by the United Nations among the world’s least developed countries. Political turmoil has never abated in that country, with various factions of the military as well as political parties and guerilla groups vying for power.

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