Maung Zarni, a Myanmar exile who is a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, said Suu Kyi's ascent is "neither a game-changer nor a sign that Burma has reached the tipping point of democratic transition."
"Quite the contrary, it marks the most important victory (yet) for the regime's strategic leaders," he said.
Suu Kyi's rise to public office marks a major reversal of fortune for a woman who became one of the world's most prominent prisoners of conscience, held under house arrest for much of the last two decades. When the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner was finally released in late 2010, few could have imagined she would make the leap from democracy advocate to elected official in less than 18 months.
Soe Aung, a spokesman for the Thailand-based Forum for Democracy in Burma, said little would change for ordinary people, but they "have much hope in her and her party."
Over the next three years, the NLD will have to decide how to navigate the run-up to national elections in 2015.
Soe Aung said Suu Kyi will use her time in parliament to "expand the space of the opposition" by working to win over the ruling party as well as the military, and trying to convince them she is not a threat.
It is a strategy of realism, he said, because Suu Kyi knows "that without the support of the (the army), they will never be able to bring about changes in the country, the genuine changes that people would like to see."
Suu Kyi said Wednesday she has "tremendous goodwill" toward the soldiers.
The army's representatives wield enormous power. Changes to the constitution require a 75 percent majority, meaning that it is all but impossible without military approval.
Maung Zarni said the most crucial test will come in three years.
"It remains an open and serious question whether the military as an institution or the generals and ex-generals will stomach the idea — much less the reality — of a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi and her party in 2015," he said.
"But three years is a long, long time," he added. "There is nothing irreversible about Burmese politics."
Pitman reported from Bangkok, Thailand.
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