Government for Beginners

Khin Maung Win / AP

Getting down to work Suu Kyi and other NLD lawmakers take the parliamentary oath

With its 31 buildings topped by slender spires, the home of Burma's new parliament in the remote capital of Naypyidaw is designed to represent each of the 31 Buddhist planes of existence. Yet the legislature's spiritual pretensions have tended to outstrip earthly reality. Few of its inaugural meetings in early 2011 convened for more than 15 minutes. A quarter of the assembly's 664 seats are reserved for unelected military officers, and vote rigging in the 2010 elections led to the domination of the army's proxy party.

But somewhere along the way,...

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