Backed party wins Thailand election in confusing results

Just days before Sunday's election, Pheu Thai said the houses of party officials and its campaign canvassers in some provinces were searched by military personnel in an act of intimidation.

The election is the latest chapter in a almost two-decade struggle between conservative forces including the military and the political machine of Thaksin, a tycoon who upended tradition-bound Thailand's politics with a populist political revolution. Some key developments from the election.

A lot of people who supported Prayuth did so because they believed "if you want to get away from Thaksin, that was your only hope", said Pavida Pananond, an associate professor at Bangkok's Thammasat Business School.

A win for the junta-backed party would amount to a breakthrough for Thailand's royalist and military elites, who have repeatedly sought to prevent Thaksin and his allies from taking power over the past two decades.

Alternatively, the constitutional court may choose to disband Future Forward after the election, or the Electoral Commission may choose to red card enough MPs so that the minimum quorum of parliament may not be reached, and parliament can not be opened. "If they are confident that our politics are stable, they should come back".

Thais are voting for a 500-seat parliament that along with a 250-member junta appointed Senate will decide the country's next prime minister. A candidate needs a majority in a joint vote of both chambers to become prime minister. The opposition Pheu Thai party had 6.6 million. However, it still looked likely to have the largest share of parliament seats.

Sunday's election followed one of the longest periods of military rule in Thailand, which has a history of elections followed by coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.

With 95 per cent of votes counted as of last night, the pro-junta party grossed 7,939,937 votes nationwide while the Shinawatra-backed Pheu Thai was second with 7,423,361 votes.

Election cheating was the top trending topic on Twitter for Bangkok with hashtags such as "ECBusted", "CheatingElection19" and "EChasNoCalculators".

"Under democracy, whoever wins, has the wish of the people, can form the government".

A coordinator for Thailand-based election monitor We Watch said voter education was insufficient. Official results are now expected on 9 May.

Thai Future Forward Party co-founder and leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (C) casts his ballot at a polling station during the general election in Bangkok.

Opinions on social media after the election also indicated "the number of ballots exceed the number of voters that turned out".

Although formal ties between Thaksin and Pheu Thai are now legally banned, he amplified the accusations of foul play in an op-ed in The New York Times on Monday. The governing party or coalition can also appoint a non-MP as prime minister.

As Thai voters select their next government in the wake of nearly five years of direct military rule, critics have slammed the voting system, accusing the junta of rigging results to favor pro-military political groups. Its leader, former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, resigned in response.

However, Pheu Thai had 137 constituency seats in the lower house compared to Phalang Pracharat's 97, according to early figures. "Otherwise, the party would be in opposition with Thaksin parties and I don't think that appeals to the Democrat core constituency".

Unofficial results show Palang Pracharat had the highest popular vote, which along with the appointed Senate puts Prayuth in a relatively strong position to stay in office and cobble together a coalition government. And even if not, Pheu Thai can still convincingly argue that it would have done better if the deck had not been stacked against it.

Parties linked to his family have won every election since 2001, only to find themselves toppled by coups, street protests and court rulings.


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