03/27/2019, 10.30
THAILAND
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Bangkok, coalition of seven democratic parties to prevent military rule

The result of the elections remains shrouded in doubt: the Electoral Commission will communicate unofficial data in two days or more. The democratic bloc risks overly fragile margin over the pro-military party Palang Pracharat. Constitution and electoral law establish that the new prime minister must obtain the support of at least 376 parliamentarians.

Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) – There has been a dramatic twist in events in the political confusion generated by the recent general elections: the Pheu Thai Party, a formation affiliated to the ex-ex-premier in exile Thaksin Shinawatra, announced this morning the formation of a coalition composed of seven pro-democracy parties. The blockade, which claims to rely on 255 of the 500 seats available in the lower house of the National Assembly, promises to prevent the military junta from returning to power as a civil administration.

The first general elections since 2011marked the nation’s return to democracy, almost five years after  the military coup. The parties merged into the alliance today are: the revelation Phak Anakhot Mai (Party of the new future), the Seri Ruam Thai, the Prachachart, the Pheu Chart, the Thai People Power and the New Economics Party. Gathered at the headquarters of the Pheu Thai Party to sign the agreement (photo), the coalition’s margin of power over Prayut Chan-o-cha, current head of the junta and single candidate of the pro-military party Palang Pracharat, may prove too fragile yet.

The election result remains in doubt, as the Electoral Commission (EC) has postponed the publication of unofficial data until at least the day after tomorrow. The partial results still indicate that the Palang Pracharat would have had enough votes to keep Prayut Chan-ocha as prime minister. His party has indeed obtained the favor of the popular vote with 7.9 million preferences, 500 thousand more than the rivals of the Pheu Thai Party.

So far, the EC has revealed only the winners of the 350 seats up for grabs, without giving details on the margins of victory. Based on data provided by the agency, the Pheu Thai Party won 137 seats, while the Palang Pracharath won 97. They are followed by Bhumjaithai with 39 and the Democratic Party with 33, both likely pro military allies. The Phak Anakhot Mai, merged today into the coalition of seven democratic parties, won 30 seats in parliament. The official election results will be announced by May 9, after the king's coronation.

The electoral law passed by the military junta establishes that only 350 seats in the House of Representatives are assigned to electoral constituencies, where the candidate with the most votes wins the district. The remaining 150 seats will come from the so-called national party lists according to a proportional representation system, which has yet to be calculated based on the total number of votes obtained on March 24th. However, it is likely that the democratic bloc will not be able to elect a prime minister. This requires a joint vote with the upper house of parliament, the Senate. Prayuth can count on the support of 250 senators, all appointed by the junta before the elections and ready to legitimize its attempt to form a government.

According to the new 2017 Constitution, the Senate has the power to select the prime minister with the House of Representatives during the first five years of the first National Assembly formed after the elections. The law states that a potential prime minister must be approved by more than half of the 750-member assembly. As a result, a political party needs at least 376 votes in a joint session - from both houses or only from the 500 members of the lower house – to give the candidate the green light to form the government. This means that the future government of Thailand will not need to get the support of the majority of parliamentarians in the lower house, as long as it can get the support of at least 376 senators.

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