In the period of social and political transformation that followed the election of President Thein Sein, ethnic politics remained a major preoccupation for the Myanmar government, ethnic peoples and the international community. Explaining the varieties of ethnic political interests that are emerging requires a new analytical framework in which the nascent electoral system is given adequate attention. This article argues that cooperation and contestation are now vying with conflict as primary drivers of ethnic politics. To account adequately for the interaction of these concepts, the article introduces various pieces of evidence concerning the different manifestations of ethnic political interests today. It describes an ambiguous situation in which the overall pattern of ethnic politics is changing rapidly. The challenge remains of fully reconciling Myanmar's diverse peoples and including them in one political system.