Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy advocate silenced for two decades by Myanmar’s generals with house arrests and overturned elections, assumed a new role in her country’s political transition on Sunday, apparently winning a seat in Parliament to make the remarkable shift from dissident to lawmaker. The main opposition party announced her victory on Sunday; if the result is confirmed, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, a 1991 Nobel Peace laureate and the face of Myanmar’s democracy movement, will hold a public office for the first time. But despite her global prominence, she will be joining a Parliament that is still overwhelmingly controlled by the military-backed ruling party. A nominally civilian government took power one year ago after years of oppressive military rule and introduced political changes it hoped would persuade Western nations to end economic sanctions. Sunday’s elections were seen as a barometer for the government’s commitment to change. To many here they represented a sea change; for the first time in two decades people in 44 districts across Myanmar had the chance to vote for Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy.
Outside Myanmar, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 66, who spent 15 years under house arrest, is a symbol of moral fortitude in the face of oppression. Inside Myanmar, she is also a repository for the wide-ranging hopes of a long-suffering population. With her entry into electoral politics, that role may change. Her party, which has been vague in its prescriptions for the country, will be forced to take specific stands in the country’s two houses of Parliament, where the debates have been increasingly lively in recent months.
But on Sunday, hundreds of frenzied supporters reveled in Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory as tallies from polling places, displayed on a large screen outside her party’s headquarters in Yangon, showed her with an overwhelming lead in her race.