It was inevitable - Aung San Suu Kyi was never NOT going to win this election.
The question now remains, what will the government do with her victory, and that of her party. There’s always the chance that the hardliners still in high government positions win and reverse many of the positive steps Burma has taken over the last year. But some in the know believe that the President Thein Sein is genuine in his wish for reform and that the doors of the country have already opened enough to be irreversible.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for the good part of two decades. Her release last year was cause for widespread celebration but since then there have been low level rumblings that she may be out of touch with the people, that she may be listening to the wrong people, that she isn’t clearly prioritising the problems that her country faces.
It remains to be seen if she can bring unity to a fractured society. 40% of the country’s population consists of a myriad of ethnic groups who themselves are divided by religion, geography, culture and a battle for resource grabs. The country has faced internal conflicts for more than 60 years and healing the divisions will take years, perhaps decades.
Some Burma watchers hope that Aung San Suu Kyi will take over something like the portfolio for the Education Ministry. At its independence, Burma had the best education system in Asia - today it would be hard to find a worse one on the continent. Less than 2% of the national GDP is spent on education and for years, only the elite had a chance to send their young to India or Singapore to study.
How the leadership responds to the overwhelming victory in this recent by-election of the largest and most influential of the nation’s opposition party will be crucial in seeing how the wind is blowing for Burma’s future.