In Myanmar, a pink pinkie is a sign of hope

The World
Supporters of Myanmar's pro-democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi gather outside National League for Democracy headquarters (NLD) in Yangon, Myanmar, November 9, 2015.

What a time for Myanmar. For the first time in decades, the Burmese people cast their votes in a largely free election.

Nothing is official just yet — and the military junta has been known to invalidate elections. But right now, it looks like a commanding victory for Aung San Suu Kyi's party.

It's such a big win, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate asked her supporters to stay gracious.

She also didn't want to do anything to provoke the military. Just because her party won, it doesn't mean it will lead, because the military remains a powerful force.

Yet in Yangon, it's time to celebrate.

"The mood is pretty euphoric," says Patrick Winn with Global Post. "As you walk around town, you see people with ink-stained pinkies, an indication they voted. I think people are pretty ecstatic that they were even given the ability to vote and that it looks like the result of the vote are being accepted."

For others, it was a cathartic experience. Winn says life in Myanmar can be pretty dehumanizing under military control. The military has stolen land, censored media, told people what to do, what to think … the list goes on. "So this election has given them a slight feeling that they had a say in who runs the place," he says.

The person running the place will not by Aung San Suu Kyi. She's barred from being president by a constitutional decree. She still runs the party. So whoever becomes president will have to essentially be her puppet. The new president will also have to get along with the military. They lost big, but will still wield plenty of power. They are guaranteed at least 25 percent of the seats in parliament. Again, by constitutional decree.

"Here's the reality check," says Winn. "Whoever runs this country next — they're going to have to deal with a lot of problems. We're talking civil war, anti-Muslim bigotry, refugees, angry generals, child labor; running Myanmar is just about the hardest job in the world."

There's a lot of work to do.

But right now, it's party time. And in a sign that life is changing, you can see images of people with pink-pinkies on Facebook and Instagram. The military had banned such social media sites in the past. After this election, they had plenty to share.

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