A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Paul Ryan’s Cramped Vision – NYTimes.com

In Politics, Really?!? on August 11, 2012 at 13:47

Paul Ryan’s Cramped Vision 

Mitt Romney’s safe and squishy campaign just took on a much harder edge. A candidate of no details — I’ll cut the budget but no need to explain just how — has named a vice-presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, whose vision is filled with endless columns of minus signs. Voters will now be able to see with painful clarity just what the Republican Party has in store for them.

RAs House Budget Committee chairman, Mr. Ryan has drawn a blueprint of a government that will be absent when people need it the most. It will not be there when the unemployed need job training, or when a struggling student needs help to get into college. It will not be there when a miner needs more than a hardhat for protection, or when a city is unable to replace a crumbling bridge.

And it will be silent when the elderly cannot keep up with the costs of M.R.I.’s or prescription medicines, or when the poor and uninsured become increasingly sick through lack of preventive care.

More than three-fifths of the cuts proposed by Mr. Ryan, and eagerly accepted by the Tea Party-driven House, come from programs for low-income Americans. That means billions of dollars lost for job training for the displaced, Pell grants for students and food stamps for the hungry. These cuts are so severe that the nation’s Catholic bishops raised their voices in protest at the shredding of the nation’s moral obligations.

Mr. Ryan’s budget “will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment,” the bishops wrote in an April letter to the House. “These cuts are unjustified and wrong.”

Mr. Ryan responded that he was helping the poor by eliminating their dependence on the government. And yet he has failed to explain how he would make them self-sufficient — how, in fact, a radical transformation of government would magically turn around an economy that is starving for assistance. At a time when state and local government layoffs are the principal factor in unemployment, the Ryan budget would cut aid to desperate governments by at least 20 percent, far below historical levels, on top of other cuts to mass transit and highway spending.

Those are the kinds of reductions voters of all income levels would actually feel. People might nod their heads at Mr. Romney’s nostrums of smaller government, but they are likely to feel quite different when they realize Mr. Ryan plans to take away their new sewage treatment plant, the asphalt for their streets, and the replacements for retiring police officers and firefighters.

All of this will be accompanied, of course, by even greater tax giveaways to the rich, and extravagant benefits to powerful military contractors. Business leaders will be granted their wish for severely diminished watchdogs over the environment, mine safety and food quality.

Mr. Romney had already praised the Ryan budget as “excellent work,” but until Saturday the deliberate ambiguity of his own plans gave him a little room for distance, an opportunity to sketch out a more humane vision of government’s role. By putting Mr. Ryan’s callousness on his ticket, he may have lost that chance.

 

Is This Maine Independent the Solution to Our Partisan Woes? – The Atlantic

In News, Politics on June 10, 2012 at 14:38

angusking.banner.AP.png

Is This Maine Independent the Solution to Our Partisan Woes? 

 Angus King is trying to turn back time in this state. I hope he can do the same across the country.

In a speech Saturday morning, the self-made millionaire turned independent politician deftly displayed the qualities that helped him serve as a popular two-term governor here from 1995 to 2003. The 68-year-old hailed Abraham Lincoln, Bill Bellichick, Sam Walton and his teenage son in a 30 minute talk that made the audience at the Maine Historical Society’s annual meeting howl with laughter. King was a self-deprecating, pragmatic and non-partisan everyman, a character type that flinty and fiercely independent Maine voters have sent to Washington for decades.

But as in the rest of the nation, politics in Maine have dramatically changed in recent years. The state’s dynamic new political force is Governor Paul LePage, a take-no-prisoners, Tea Party-backed conservative Republican. Since winning a three-way race for governor with 39 percent of the vote in 2010, LePage has assailed public employee unions, unleashed blistering attacks on his opponents and delighted his conservative Republican base. Like them or not, the Tea Party has out-organized its rivals and gained an out-sized voice.

King, a former Democrat who now rejects both Republican and Democratic dogma, is either an anachronism or a sign that some voters are tiring of partisanship. Keep in mind that a record number of Americans — 40 percent — identified themselves as independent in a January Gallup poll; 31 percent identified as Democrats and 27 percent as Republicans.

For now, King is the favorite to win the Senate race. And in one unlikely but possible scenario, he could bethe deciding vote in an evenly divided Senate.

A lawyer, businessman and 18-year-host of the Maine public television show “Maine Watch,” King’s long-shot campaign for governor in 1994 was the first time he had ever run for public office. Bitter partisanship between Democrats and Republicans and a Green Party candidate who drew 6 percent of the vote, helped King eke out a win with 35 percent of the vote. So did the $950,000 that King — whose alternative energy business boomed at the time — spent on the race.

In office, King supported abortion rights but opposed increasing the minimum wage. He oversaw the largest increase in conservation lands in Maine’s history but opposed regulations supported by environmental groups. And while cutting some taxes, he backed a program that gave every seventh and eighth grade student in the state a laptop computer.

Re-elected in a landslide in 1998, he supported George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential campaign — “I thought he was a compassionate conservative,” King told me in an interview after his Historical Society stemwinder — but backed John Kerry in 2004. “I didn’t like the direction that the Bush administration had taken,” he explained, “particularly in starting two wars and tax cuts that weren’t funded.”

As evidence of his bipartisanship, King’s campaign says the bills he proposed during his eight years in office had 891 Democratic sponsors or co-sponsors and 755 Republican sponsors or co-sponsors. His self-described political philosophy is “I call ’em as I see ’em.”

More than anything, King is an iconoclast. The day after he completed his second term in office, he, his wife and two youngest children set out on a five-month road trip across the United States. King, a self-described environmentalist, piloted a diesel-burning, 40-foot long RV with a car towed behind for 15,000 miles through 33 states. He also owns a Harley.

Olympia Snowe’s surprise February decision to not seek reelection prompted King to enter the race. Her complaint that partisanship had made it impossible to get anything done in Washington is King’s battle cry.

The independent argues that average Americans are turning less partisan, not more partisan. “I think we’re divided among the people who talk a lot,” he said.

As he campaigned, he says, he hears a clear message from 95 percent of voters. “Why can’t they talk to each other?,” he said, paraphrasing voter questions. “What happened to common sense? Why can’t they work together?”

King said he was “neither arrogant enough nor naïve enough” to think he can single-handedly ease Washington’s partisanship. But he believes there is a “nascent moderate caucus” of senators from both parties “who realize that things are not going right.” In a closely divided Senate, that group could be “very influential.”

King will not say which party he will caucus with, if elected, but in this year’s presidential election, he is backing Obama. He said Mitt Romney’s failure to support the bailout of the auto industry or the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan, as well as his hawkish foreign policy advisers, worry him.

At the same time, he opposes some of Obama’s signature decisions, including Dodd Frank financial industry regulations, the troop surge in Afghanistan and the president’s own failure to embrace Simpson-Bowles as a bipartisan compromise. King said he would have supported the 2009 stimulus and Obamacare as imperfect answers to dire problems.

On the economy, King accuses both parties of embracing false “silver bullets.” Liberal calls for increased stimulus spending and conservative calls for tax cuts are not panaceas. He says the government should spend heavily on infrastructure, research and development and education, but end its role there.

“We need the federal government to provide infrastructure and leadership on issues like education and research,” he said. “But in the long run the federal government cannot be the creator of jobs.”

As both parties become more partisan, according to King, they are driving “whole swathes” of voters to become independents.

“They have essentially purged or otherwise narrowed their bases,” he said. “But by doing that they’ve pushed a lot of people toward the center.”

King is leading in the polls and Maine political scientists say the race, for now, is his to lose. But with control of the Senate potentially at stake, both national parties — and so-called Super PACs — are expected to savage the Maine independent. King, meanwhile, promises to not run a single negative ad.

Ronald Schmidt, a political science professor at the University of Southern Maine, said that the state’s Tea-Party backed governor is creating a new style of politics in Maine. Governor LePage, who is also a deft politician, may be calculating that having a small but highly motivated base may be enough to again defeat a divided opposition. If a centrist like King is going to win Maine’s Senate race, Schmidt said, moderates need to be as motivated as Tea Party members.

“Can the moderate Republicans organize themselves that well?” Schmidt asked. “Can the moderate Democrats?”

This year pundits and the media will rightly focus on the presidential race. But elections like this one are hugely important as well. Whether an Obama or Romney administration takes office in January 2013, they will face a dysfunctional Congress unable to enact desperately needed reforms. Sending moderates like King to Washington and ending our poisonous, take-no-prisoners politics is vital.

Sherrod Brown Held Corporations Accountable, Now They’re Spending Millions To Unseat Him | The Nation

In News, Politics on May 16, 2012 at 12:37

Sherrod Brown Held Corporations Accountable, Now They’re Spending Millions To Unseat Him 

By now, most Americans realize that Big Money is a powerful force in American politics. Members of Congress often shy away from regulating an industry that showers them with campaign donations. Members will rush to vote for massive subsidies and giveaways to big donors.

One senator who has been mostly unmoved by the presence of this Big Money is Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). He has been a leader in taking on the big banks, working to create a more just and humane health care system, and kicking Big Money out of politics.

But when you take on special interests, they tend to retaliate in a heavy-handed way. Brown is up for re-election this year, and corporate front groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are spending heavily to try to defeat him. As one example, the Chamber spent $1.5 million to unseat Brown through last year, and Brown’s campaign estimates that the same group has committed to spending at least $1.2 million on additional ads through this year. (The Chamber says it will spend as much as $10 million overall for Senate ads in the first part of 2012.)

It’s important for the public to understand why this much money is being spent by the Chamber to defeat Brown. On virtually every issue area, he has upset the corporations that fund the Chamber, and those corporations now want to get rid of him. We’ve prepared this mini-report to explain how specific donors to the Chamber may have been angered by Brown decided to stand with his constituents and the taxpayers instead of corporate donors:

THE BANKS: Brown has been a tough advocate for fixing the financial system that brought the world to the point of economic catastrophe in 2008. He authored the Brown-Kauffman amendment in the Senate during the financial regulation debate. The amendment would’ve effectively broken up the biggest banks, but failed to pass a Senate vote. The Chamber is funded by banking entities like Citigroup and New York Private Bank & Trust.

THE HEALTH INSURERS: During the debate over legislation to reform the American health care system, Brown was a leader, advocating for a public plan for Americans to buy into at least, if not a Medicare for All system that completely cuts out private insurers. Health insurers from America’s Health Insurance Programs used the Chamber of Commerce to secretly funnel tens of millions of dollars to attack health reform efforts, and their money is now likely going to be used to attack Brown for being a leader in holding their industry accountable.

THE DRUG COMPANIES: The American drug industry has a pretty good deal. They use their political clout to get massive funding from the government, then they use their political clout to bar Americans from reimporting drugs from countries where they are cheaper, like in Canada. Brown didn’t think that was right, so he voted for a measure that would’ve allowed Americans to purchase drugs from other countries. Chamber donors like Eli Lilly and Merck are likely very unhappy about Brown standing with Americans and free market advocates over their companies.

THE OUTSOURCERS: Support for corporate-written “free trade” agreement that hollow out our manufacturing base and reward human rights abusers overseas has become vogue among bipartisan elites, but not Brown. He opposed the agreements made with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. The Chamber has countless outsourcing-backing corporate members who supported these agreements, including Eli Lilly, Microsoft, Intel, 3M and others.

It’s important for the voters to understand that these advertisements are not simply coming from concerned citizens. They are being financed by America’s top corporate front group, which is being used by corporations to lash out against one senator who worked very hard to hold them accountable. If Brown is defeated, it will send a clear message to other senators willing to challenge Big Money: If you stand up to us, we will make sure you’re unseated. But if Brown wins, there’s at least a chance that we will see more senators willing to take politically courageous stands in the future.

 

North Carolina passes Amendment 1 banning same-sex unions – guardian.co.uk

In News, Politics on May 9, 2012 at 00:14

Opponents of the North Carolina ban on same-sex unions react to its adoption in Amendment 1 of the state's constitution

North Carolina passes Amendment 1 banning same-sex unions 

hopefully it will go differently in Minnesota…. 

Voters in North Carolina have approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions, according to the Associated Press.

It will become the 30th state to define marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman. With more than half the precincts reporting, unofficial returns showed the amendment passing with about 60% for to 40% against.

Same-sex marriage has been illegal in the state since a law enacted in 1996. The amendment will enshrine the ban in the state constitution. It can now only be amended by another vote by the people.

The amendment declares that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognised in this state”.

Supporters of Amendment 1 declared a victory for “God’s institution” of marriage. “With God’s grace we have won at overwhelming victory,” Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Votes For Marriage NC, told supporters.

“We are not anti-gay, we are pro-marriage,” she said. “The whole point is you don’t rewrite the nature of God’s design for marriage based on the demands of a group of adults.”

Jeremy Kennedy, of the Coalition to Protect All NC Families, said: “It is just a skirmish in a battle, a war that we will win.”

In an emotional speech, he told supporters they had “left no stone unturned” in fighting the amendment.

“Tonight we walk away proud with our heads held high and we will continue to fight this.”

Twenty-eight states had already passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman. The amendment in North Carolina goes beyond current state law by preventing other forms of domestic unions from carrying legal status.

Lawyers and campaigners for the anti-amendment campaign have warned this could cause a host of problems for unmarried couples, including erasing health benefits for the children of public employees in certain parts of the state. They also say it could disrupt protection orders for unmarried couples and impact victims of domestic violence. The term “domestic legal union” is not defined by North Carolina law.

 

Senate Republicans Block Bill on Student Loan Rates – NYTimes.com

In News, Really?!? on May 8, 2012 at 15:12

To be expected- yes still disappointing. Who needs the money more… people scraping by on 50,000 a year…. trying to pay off loans…  or people getting a tax break although earning a million buck s a year. 

Senate Republicans Block Bill on Student Loan Rates 

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked consideration of a Democratic bill to prevent the doubling of some student loan interest rates, leaving the legislation in limbo less than two months before rates on subsidized federal loans are set to shoot upward.

Along party lines, the Senate voted 52 to 45, failing to clear the 60-vote hurdle needed to beat back a filibuster and begin debating the measure. Senator Olympia J. Snowe, the retiring moderate Republican from Maine, voted present.

Republicans said they wanted to extend Democratic legislation passed in 2007 that temporarily reduced interest rates for the low- or middle-income undergraduates who receive subsidized Stafford loans to 3.4 percent from 6.8 percent.

But they oppose the Senate Democrats’ proposal to pay for a one-year extension by changing tax law that currently allows some wealthy taxpayers to avoid paying Social Security and Medicare taxes by classifying their pay as dividends, not cash income.

“They want to raise taxes on people who are creating jobs when we are still recovering from the greatest recession since the Great Depression,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, who instead wanted to pay for it by eliminating a preventive health care fund in President Obama’s health care law.

The vote marked the 21st successful filibuster of a Democratic bill this Congress. Republicans have blocked consideration of the president’s full jobs proposal, as well as legislation repealing tax breaks for oil companies, helping local governments pay teachers and first responders, and setting a minimum tax rate for households earning more than $1 million a year.

Mr. Obama has been hammering Republicans for weeks on the issue, which has been elevated as a major political showdown, despite its relatively modest impact. American students took out twice the value of student loans in 2011, about $112 billion, as they did a decade before, after adjusting for inflation. Over all, Americans now owe about $1 trillion in student loans, and in 2010 such debt surpassed credit card debt for the first time.

 

The ‘United’ States? A house divided – Al Jazeera English

In News, Politics on May 8, 2012 at 09:31

The 1865 US secession map – where blue were ‘free’ states, red were ‘slave’ states while yellow were states that ‘permitted’ slavery [Wikimedia Commons]

The ‘United’ States? A house divided 

How will states work out their varying views of what makes a modern society work, and come to any common understanding? Especially in a world where Republicans have assaulted the very functioning of the force that keeps us all as one, the federal government.

Because these past few weeks – and this has been going on a lot longer than that, but lately it’s been particularly alarming – have exposed the stark difference between regions of this nation, a house divided, if you will. And this is only seeming to grow with time.

While Oklahoma and Tennessee were working on legislation to actually ban the teaching of global warming and evolution, Connecticut was abolishing the death penalty. While “Republican legislators in Texas have voted to eliminate funding for any women’s healthcare clinic with an affiliation to an abortion provider – even if the affiliation is merely a shared name, employee, or board member”, the California state legislature is pushing to liberalise abortion laws, increasing the eligible pool of those able to assist a woman in exercising her right to choose.

Meanwhile, Arizona, not one for being shy about their crazy, has passed legislation (which is clearly unconstitutional) saying “life begins at menstruation” for potential mothers-to-be. Sadly, I am not making this up. I hear next they’re looking to change the standard to “when she has that gleam in her eye”.

“The only answer is to push back against assaults on the federal government, indeed strengthen its role in separating church and state and protect basic human rights.”

At some point, with no unifying force, it might make sense to wonder what Mississippi has in common with some lines on a map. That very same question could be applied to Oklahoma and Oregon or Wyoming and Washington, DC. Sure, we have a common history, but a very different view of it. We do share language, but then again, we also share a basic dialect with New Zealand. Blue states might even start questioning why their tax dollars disproportionately fund red, welfare-hating, “welfare” states that take in more federal dollars than they send back to Washington.

Of course the only answer is to push back against assaults on the federal government, indeed strengthen its role in separating church and state and protect basic human rights. Because just as it was needed to end slavery and enact civil rights, is the only force that can give this country a common cultural understanding of what is acceptable and what being a democracy means.

We must defeat the ideology of anti-government zealotry acsendant among today’s right-wing Randroids, or else I don’t see what will be holding us together a generation down the road.

 

Republicans Concerned Over State Focus on Social Issues – NYTimes.com

In News, Politics on April 21, 2012 at 13:10

Republicans Concerned Over State Focus on Social Issues 

This is why the Republicans will lose the Presidential Elections. The GOPs social  policies are so moronic that no one can see past them and even think about some of their (occasionally reasonably)  fiscal policies

Fiscal issues and union rights were front and center in many Republican-controlled legislatures last year. But this year, with the nation heading into the heart of a presidential race and voters consumed by the country’s economic woes, much of the debate in statehouses has centered on social issues.

Tennessee enacted a law this month intended to protect teachers who question the theory of evolution.(Seriously??)  Arizona moved to ban nearly all abortions after 20 weeks, and Mississippi imposed regulations that could close the state’s only abortion clinic. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed a law allowing the state’s public schools to teach about abstinence instead of contraception.(again… Seriously???) 

The recent flurry of socially conservative legislation, on issues ranging from expanding gun rights to placing new restrictions on abortion, comes as Republicans at the national level are eager to refocus attention on economic issues.

Some Republican strategists and officials, reluctant to be identified because they do not want to publicly antagonize the party’s base, fear that the attention these divisive social issues are receiving at the state level could harm the party’s chances in November, when its hopes of winning back the White House will most likely rest with independent voters in a handful of swing states.

One seasoned strategist called the problem potentially huge. But others said that actions taken by a handful of states would probably have little impact on the national campaign.

Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, a Republican who created a stir a couple of years ago with his suggestion for a “truce” on social issues, said in an interview that such issues are best handled at the state and local levels. They become more polarizing, he said, when people try to settle them nationally.

“If we don’t address soon what I believe are the lethal threats of our debts, our unaffordable commitments, our slow-growth economy, and so forth, every other problem will seem small,” said Mr. Daniels, whose state did see union protests this year when it enacted a so-called right-to-work law. He noted that Mitt Romney’s campaign was already emphasizing the economy at every opportunity.

“The genuine risk to our party comes if we allow it to appear that these are our first preoccupations,” he said.

But John Weaver, a Republican strategist who worked on the presidential campaigns of Senator John McCain and Jon M. Huntsman Jr., said that the attention Republicans were paying to social issues at the state level could cost the party support from several important blocs of voters, including independents, women and young people voting for the first or second time.

“I think it’s problematic,” he said, “not just for this national election we’re facing, but for the long-term health of the party.”

The risks of focusing on social issues were highlighted this week when the American Legislative Exchange Council, a business-backed group that pushes conservative laws at the state level, announced that it would be refocusing its efforts on economic issues. Several sponsors had recently withheld their support after the group came under public pressure for advocating voting restrictions and self-defense legislation modeled on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which became an issue after the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

 

The House Will Consider a Disturbing Cybersecurity Bill | The Nation

In News, Really?!? on April 11, 2012 at 17:54

The House Will Consider a Disturbing Cybersecurity Bill 

The Rogers-Ruppersberger bill creates a “cybersecurity exception” to every federal and state law that allows private companies to share Americans’ private communications with the National Security Agency, the Pentagon, the CIA and basically any other federal agency that requests it. The Lungren bill, by contrast, limits all of the sharing to the Department of Homeland Security, a civilian agency—and this is an important distinction. The DoD’s Cybercommand, along with the NSA, are notoriously secretive and not subject to many of the transparency rules in place at DHS.

This takes the nation’s cybersecurity efforts—and all of the very delicate monitoring that goes with it—and transfers it to the military and away from civilian control.

Even more troubling, the Rogers-Ruppersberger bill doesn’t limit the type of information that can be shared to specific cyber-terrorism threats—the language is vague to the point where virtually any communication could be shared. The information simply needs to be “pertaining to the protection of” a system or network—not related to a known attack or threat. And all networks are included—not just, say, computer networks that run the power grid or control flight patterns. Since hackers often use routine Internet, this would allow ISPs to share virtually all Internet traffic with the government.

Once the government has possession of that information, it can use it however it wants—it does not necessarily need to pertain to a cyber-terrorism investigation. (The Lungren bill limits the use to “related law enforcement).”

It’s not hard to see how, if passed, the Rogers-Ruppersberger bill would allow private companies to share basically any private electronic communications it wanted with any government agency, for virtually any purpose. The ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology are launching major campaigns to stop it.

Rogers has defended his bill on the grounds that information-sharing by private companies is completely voluntary under his proposed law, which is true. But he doesn’t mention that, in exchange for sharing the information, the companies receive help from the NSA in identifying a cyber-attack—and more importantly, under Rogers’ bill the companies receive blanket immunity from any lawsuits pertaining to the sharing.

 

Pink Slime Economics – NYTimes.com

In News, Politics, Really?!? on April 2, 2012 at 14:09

Pink Slime Economics 

It got through without a whimper. What a disaster.

The big bad event of last week was, of course, the Supreme Court hearing on health reform. In the course of that hearing it became clear that several of the justices, and possibly a majority, are political creatures pure and simple, willing to embrace any argument, no matter how absurd, that serves the interests of Team Republican.

But we should not allow events in the court to completely overshadow another, almost equally disturbing spectacle. For on Thursday Republicans in the House of Representatives passed what was surely the most fraudulent budget in American history.

And when I say fraudulent, I mean just that. The trouble with the budget devised by Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, isn’t just its almost inconceivably cruel priorities, the way it slashes taxes for corporations and the rich while drastically cutting food and medical aid to the needy. Even aside from all that, the Ryan budget purports to reduce the deficit — but the alleged deficit reduction depends on the completely unsupported assertion that trillions of dollars in revenue can be found by closing tax loopholes.

And we’re talking about a lot of loophole-closing. As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out, to make his numbers work Mr. Ryan would, by 2022, have to close enough loopholes to yield an extra $700 billion in revenue every year. That’s a lot of money, even in an economy as big as ours. So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close?

None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That’s the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)

 

Victory for Aung San Suu Kyi !!! -NYTimes.com

In News on April 1, 2012 at 14:21

Party Claims Victory for Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar 

The party of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi declared that she had won a seat in Myanmar’s Parliament on Sunday, an unofficial result that may herald a new era for the country as it moves toward democracy after decades of oppressive military rule.

If the result is confirmed, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, a global icon of democracy and a 1991 Nobel Peace laureate, will make the transition from dissident to lawmaker, joining a Parliament overwhelmingly controlled by the military-backed ruling party.

Outside her party headquarters in Yangon, hundreds of frenzied supporters cheered as tallies from polling stations, displayed on a large screen, lopsidedly favored Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi.

“I feel like I want to dance,” said Khin Maung Myint, a 65-year-old painter in the crowd. “I’m so happy that they beat the military. We need a party that stands for the people.”