All political hopefuls seeking to participant in next year’s by-election must register their candidacy during a 10-day window from November 28 to December 7, the Union Election Commission announced this week.

The UEC will release final candidate lists on January 2 and the campaign period will run two months, from the end of January until the end of March, with voters in 18 constituencies set to head to the polls on April 1, 2017, according to a by-election schedule released on October 18.

Out of the 18 constituencies, spread across five states and three regions, Shan State will see the most seats voted on, with seven races in total. The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy is planning to contest all seven races, according to SNLD general secretary Sai Nyunt Lwin, with the party expected to make a final decision by Friday.

“Our party will contest seven seats, I guess. We have our CEC [central executive committee] meeting on the 21st and 22nd, where the decision will be made,” he said.

The SNLD was the country’s second-most successful ethnic party, winning 15 seats in the Union parliament and 25 in the Shan State legislature, as well as one in the Kachin State Hluttaw.

The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which lost its ruling majority to the National League for Democracy in the November 8, 2015, general election, will be looking to gain back ground by also contesting every seat next year. Its candidates will be chosen based on the recommendations of respective branch leaderships in each constituency, according to U Pike Htwe, the secretary of the USDP.

“By the first week of next month, we will have our candidates list, I think,” said U Pike Htwe. “We will contest to win of course, but we always respect [the will of] the people.”

NLD central executive committee member U Win Htein said his party, which won nearly 80 percent of elected seats in the Union parliament and secured majorities in 12 of 14 state and regional hluttaws, will also compete in every race on the by-election map.

He told The Myanmar Times that the party’s candidates list would likely be announced on November 12.

“We have not chosen the candidates yet but we have a meeting on November 12 and the list will probably be announced after the meeting,” he said.

Nine seats in the Pyithu Hluttaw, three seats in the Amyotha Hluttaw, and six seats in Myanmar’s state and regional legislatures will be up for grabs next year, with those constituencies currently lacking legislative representation.

The by-election will include six seats in two Shan State townships that did not hold a vote in last year’s general election due to instability in the area at the time. Kyethi and Mine Shu/Mong Shu townships will hold by-elections for two seats each in the regional legislature and two seats in the Union parliament’s lower house.

All seats to be contested next year had been held post-2015 by the NLD, with 10, or the USDP, which had two of them.

Vacancies include Kawhmu township in the lower house, formerly held by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who gave up her seat to assume the role of state counsellor in April of this year. The upper house seat of Chin State No 3 must also be filled, after the election-winning NLD candidate U Henry Van Thio was selected as one of Myanmar’s two vice presidents.

In Bago constituency No 4, U Win Myat Aye of the NLD won his race but was picked by his party’s administration to serve as the social welfare, relief and resettlement minister. Ann township in Rakhine State, a lower house seat, was won by the USDP’s U Thein Swe, who now serves as the labour, immigration and population minister.

Also holding votes to fill seats vacated mid-term will be Monywa, Chaungzone, Hlaing Tharyar, Dagon Seikkan and East Dagon townships in the Pyithu Hluttaw; Yangon region No 6 in the Amyotha Hluttaw; and Hpruso No 1 (Kayah) and Kengtung No 2 (Shan), for state legislative seats.