Friday, August 18, 2017

Campaign period starts, but only for some parties

As with most deadlines and dates this election season, the start of the official candidate campaign period is rolling by today only partially heeded. Political parties had to miss scheduled campaign kick-off events – and the unveiling of campaign songs and slogans – because the candidate scrutiny process was behind schedule in some townships. The backlog caused a delay in the announcement of all the vetted election hopefuls.

Union Solidarity and Development Party members attend an election rally during the campaigning period in 2010. (Staff/The Myanmar Times)Union Solidarity and Development Party members attend an election rally during the campaigning period in 2010. (Staff/The Myanmar Times)

U Tun Tun Hain, a member of the central executive committee of the National League for Democracy (NLD), said that the party has not yet received the total number of its candidates approved by the district election sub-commissions, and so it had to defer its public campaign events.

“We are waiting on the list to start our campaigns,” he said, adding that only the name of a single candidate – one running for regional parliament in Tarmwe township in Yangon – has been released so far.

The National Democratic Force on the other hand said it would go ahead with planned events today in the absence of the finalised candidate list.

“We will hold our kick-off at a dhammayone in Dagon Myothit township,” said party chair U Khin Maung Swe. Of the 247 candidates from the NDF, he said three had been rejected by district election sub-commissions.

In order to hold candidate campaign rallies during the officially sanctioned period between September 8 and November 7, parties have to apply for permission from the relevant sub-commission offices at least seven days in advance. The commission officials are supposed to vet the contents of the campaign, but without a confirmed candidate to rally for, many parties hesitated to print paraphernalia and get it approved. Some parties hedged their bets and found it paid off.

The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy is one of the parties that will start hosting a public candidate campaign today.

The SNLD is meeting its voters in Pinlon township to launch its official campaign. The party is also planning to distribute pamphlets, which will list candidate profiles, party policy and future campaign plans.

“Now we have recorded songs in Shan language, which we are going to use in our campaign. We have also designed pamphlets, but still need to publish them,” she added.

The party will also hold a two-day training for its candidates aimed at overseeing as cohesive party campaign strategy.

Prior to the start of the official candidate campaign period, parties were permitted to encourage voting for them, but were not supposed to mention specific candidates, according to electoral regulations. During campaign period, which ends just a day before the election, candidates can spend a maximum of K10 million (US$8000).