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1960 Burmese general election

General elections were held in Burma on 6 February 1960 to install a government to take over from General Ne Win's interim administration, established in October 1958. The military-led administration was credited for bringing stability and improving infrastructure in the country, though it suppressed some civil liberties.[1]

1960 Burmese general election

← 1956 6 February 1960 1974 →

All 250 seats in the Chamber of Deputies
126 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  U Nu portrait.jpg Ba Swe.jpg No image.svg
Leader U Nu Kyaw Nyein & Ba Swe (pictured)
Party Clean AFPFL Stable AFPFL NUF
Seats won 158 41 3
Seat change New New Decrease45
Popular vote 3,153,934 1,694,052 262,199
Percentage 57.2 30.7 4.8

Prime Minister before election

Ne Win

Prime Minister-elect

U Nu

The elections were seen as not so much a contest between the Clean AFPFL of U Nu against the Stable AFPFL of Kyaw Nyein and Ba Swe, but a referendum on the policies of the interim military government between 1958 and 1960.[2] The result was a victory for the Clean AFPFL, which won 157 of the 250 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

The elections set a precedent to other Middle Eastern and South Asian leaders, where the military voluntarily handed over to a civilian government and held free elections.[3] However, only two years after his election victory, U Nu was overthrown by a coup d'état led by General Ne Win on 2 March 1962.


The Clean AFPFL, led by U Nu, and Stable AFPFL, led by U Kyaw Nyein and U Ba Swe, had been formed after a split in the main AFPFL party in June 1958. Until the military took over in October 1958, U Nu relied on the communists to retain a majority in parliament.[4]

Despite the formation of the two parties, there were no major ideological differences between them and their policies were similar, especially with regards to non-alignment, although the Stable faction favoured industrialisation and the Clean faction spoke more of agricultural development.[5] The Stable faction had given the impression it was favoured by the army, but, after realising the army was not as favoured as first thought, distanced itself.[5] It had also argued it represented stability.[6] Meanwhile, the "Clean" faction warned against the "dangers of fascist dictatorship",[7] and criticised the current leaders for their "drinking and womanising".[8] The communist NUF was severely repressed by the caretaker military government and was therefore outside the two main parties.[9]

The Clean AFPFL chose yellow to campaign, as it was the colour worn by monks, while the Stable AFPFL chose red and the National Union Front chose blue.[7]


An estimated 10,000,000 Burmese were eligible to vote.[10] The military largely stayed away on voting day, although it was present at some ballot boxes. Boxes for the "Clean" faction featured pictures of U Nu which the "Stable" faction and other smaller parties alleged confused the voter into thinking they were voting for Nu personally.[9] Polls closed at 6pm and a crowd estimated at 20,000 gathered at the Sule Pagoda in the capital Rangoon to hear results as they were posted.[5] The "Clean" faction took all 9 seats in the capital including one they were prepared to concede, while the "Stable" faction had some strength in the countryside.[11]

Media coverage of the event was restricted to print media only and vigorously covered, but was largely ignored by the state-run Burma Broadcasting Service which had not aired opposition coverage since before the AFPFL split.[9]


Voter turnout was 66%, then the highest in a Burmese election.[12] U Nu, remarking on his victory, said "I guess people like us".[7]

Chamber of DeputiesEdit

Party Votes % Seats +/–
Clean AFPFL 3,153,934 57.2 158 New
Stable AFPFL 1,694,052 30.7 41 New
National United Front 262,199 4.8 3 –45
Arakanese National Unity Organisation 160,783 7.3 6 0
United Hill People's Congress 6 –8
Kachin National Congress 3 +1
Mon National Front 3 New
People's Educational and Cultural Development Organisation 2 –2
Chin National Organisation 1 New
Kayah National United League 1 New
Kayah Democratic League 1 New
All Nationalist Alliance 0 New
All-Shan State Organisation 0 –4
Buddhist Democratic Party 0 New
Burma Democratic Party 0 0
Burma Nationalist Party 0 –1
Independents 16  3
Vacant 13
Total 5,513,895 100 250 0
Registered voters/turnout 10,000,000 66.0
Source: The 1960 Elections Burma, Nohlen et al.

Chamber of NationalitiesEdit

Party Votes % Seats
Clean AFPFL 53
Stable AFPFL 29
Minority parties 43
Total 125
Source: Nohlen et al.


  1. ^ Bigelow, Lee S (1960). "The 1960 Elections in Burma". Far Eastern Survey. Institute of Pacific Relations. 29 (5): 70–74. doi:10.1525/as.1960.29.5.01p13582. JSTOR 3024046.
  2. ^ Rotberg, Robert I (1998). Burma: prospects for a democratic future. Brookings Institution Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-8157-7581-2.
  3. ^ Butwell, Richard; von der Mehden, Fred (1960). "The 1960 Election in Burma". Pacific Affairs. Pacific Affairs, University of British Columbia. 33 (2): 144–157. JSTOR 2752941.
  4. ^ "General Ne Win bows out". The Glasgow Herald. 10 February 1960.
  5. ^ a b c Grant, Bruce (8 February 1960). "All Asia is watching Burma's democratic election". The Age.
  6. ^ Associated Press (9 February 1960). "'Foes' of corruption win easily in Burma election". Herald-Journal.
  7. ^ a b c Associated Press (10 February 1960). "U Nu victory changes trend". The Spokesman-Review.
  8. ^ Grant, Bruce (9 February 1960). "Burma states her policy". The Age.
  9. ^ a b c Butwell, Richard (1960). "The new political outlook in Burma". Far Eastern Survey. Institute of Pacific Relations. 29 (2): 21–27. doi:10.1525/as.1960.29.2.01p1337u. JSTOR 3024460.
  10. ^ United Press International (7 February 1960). "Burma voters cast ballots for deputies". St. Petersburg Times.
  11. ^ Associated Press (9 February 1960). "U Nu 'cleans' bidding for sweep in voting". Daytona Beach Morning Journal.
  12. ^ Dieter Nohlen, Florian Grotz & Christof Hartmann (2001) Elections in Asia: A data handbook, Volume I, p603 ISBN 0-19-924958-X