Thai Elections: Opposition Dominates Vote
Thai voters on Sunday overwhelmingly backed the opposition parties in nationwide elections, in a blow to the military-aligned establishment that has been ruling Thailand since 2014.
- Thai voters on Sunday overwhelmingly backed the opposition parties in nationwide elections, in a blow to the military-aligned establishment that has been ruling Thailand since 2014.1
- With 99% of the ballots counted on Monday by the Election Commission, Move Forward and Pheu Thai looked set to win 151 and 141 seats, respectively, in the 500-member parliament.2
- As it became clear that his United Thai Nation party had been defeated, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha — who took over the country in a coup nearly a decade ago — expressed his hopes for peace and development in Thailand, and vowed to respect democracy and elections.3
- The progressive Move Forward's Harvard- and MIT-educated leader Pita Limjaroenrat announced Sunday his readiness to become prime minister, with his party agreeing on Monday to form a ruling coalition with Pheu Thai, the country's largest opposition party of the past two decades.4
- Despite Pheu Thai's agreement to form a coalition with Move Forward and four smaller opposition parties, the potential bloc of more than 60% of seats in the new parliament may not be sufficient to outvote the 250 military-appointed senators who can join the vote in the next administration.5
- This election was the first since youth-led mass protests rocked the country in 2020 demanding democratic and military reforms, an overhaul of the monarchy, and constitutional changes. It's only the second since Prayuth installed himself as prime minister. Turnout was reportedly the highest on record at 75.2%.6
Sources: 1Wall Street Journal, 2Reuters (a), 3Nation Thailand, 4Reuters (b), 5BBC News, and 6CNN.
- Narrative A, as provided by Khaosod English. This election only offered the illusion of democracy because the military-aligned establishment had already secured a third of the votes for the next prime minister long before the first ballot was cast. It had also already appointed all nine members of the Constitutional Court, which determines when parties are dissolved. The opposition may have won the vote, but it is unlikely that this reflection of popular support will enable them to appoint the next prime minister.
- Narrative B, as provided by Council on Foreign Relations. Though the pro-military Senate could indeed join forces with smaller parties to block a Make Forward-Pheu Thai coalition — and it is true that it has appointed judges that can disqualify candidates and parties — this election has shown such strong popular support for the opposition camp that it is very unlikely that the establishment will scheme such chicaneries.