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Scenario Inflation

Misha Renou

It’s two days until the elections in Myanmar. The NLD’s campaign has ended, while the incumbent USDP is staging one last push with a rally in Yangon. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what may happen.

In a piece for the Nikkei Asian Review, Thant Myint-U contends that there are ‘two main scenarios’: a landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD, or a second term for President U Thein Sein.

For the BBC’s Jonah Fisher, there are four possible scenarios: a landslide for Suu Kyi that delivers the presidency; the NLD failing to secure a majority and reaching out to ethnic parties to form a government; the ‘most complex scenario’, in which the NLD wins the most seats, but the USDP, ethnic parties and the military (which is guaranteed 25 per cent of the seats) block her and take the presidency for themselves; or an outright USDP victory, which is unlikely.

Rajiv Bhatia, a former Indian ambassador to Myanmar, lays out five scenarios: the USDP wins 24 per cent of the vote and retains the presidency; the NLD wins 51 per cent of the two-thirds of seats being contested and selects a president (Suu Kyi said at a press conference yesterday that she would rule ‘above’ the president); an NLD landslide victory of 70 per cent; a ‘hung parliament’ with the USDP winning between 15 and 20 per cent and the NLD between 40 and 45 per cent, forcing them to reach out to ethnic parties who hold the balance of power; and finally, a ‘national government’ of NLD and USDP representatives, backed by the military.

Not to be outdone, Myanmar Now has added a pair of ‘worst-case’ scenarios: in one, the NLD does badly in a rigged election; in the other, a huge NLD victory triggers a reactionary backlash from the military and the nationalist Ma Ba Tha, causing widespread revolt and allowing the Tatmadaw to declare a state of emergency and suspend the constitution until further notice.