Bangkok: junta and opposition claim victory in the vote
The military ready to return to power as a civil administration. With 7.6 million votes in favor, their party claims victory. In terms of seats it can count on 250 senators, all appointed before the elections. The official results will be announced before May 9 and only after the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Bangkok (AsiaNews) - The Thai political scene faces confusing days ahead. The country has been split by the first general elections since 2011 and each of the rival political camps hopes to form a government. The March 24 election marks the nation's return to democracy - almost five years after the junta's takeover - but candidates and voters are crying fraud and there has been harsh criticism of the electoral law written by the military.
The junta is in the front line to return to power as a civil administration, as the preliminary results published by the Electoral Commission (CE) show that its party has secured an unexpected majority. With 95% of votes cast, the government agency said last night that the pro-military party Palang Pracharat had won around 7.6 million votes. This gives its candidate prime minister, the head of the junta Prayut Chan-o-cha, the legitimacy to claim victory.
His party has obtained over 400 thousand more preferences than Pheu Thai, a populist party deposed since the coup d'état in 2014 and affiliated with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. But if the Pheu Thai lost on the popular vote, it won out in 137 polling stations. The rivals of the Palang Pracharat stopped at 97, followed by the Bhumjaithai with 39, the Democrats with 33 and the revelation Phak Anakhot Mai (Party of the new future) with 30. There are still 150 seats left in the Lower House.
The data suggests that Prayuth is not far from reaching the crucial threshold of 126 seats in the lower house. It is composed of the 350 winners in the electoral colleges and 150 politicians appointed in the party lists. At the National Assembly (bicameral), however, Prayuth can also 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.
On the eve of the election, the EC postponed the announcement of the preliminary results without explanation, following complaints of counting errors and possible irregularities in the vote. When the ballot was still 93%, the Commission announced that it had invalidated almost 1.9 million votes. Experts predict days, perhaps weeks, of disorderly negotiations between parties. Even the disqualification of candidates and disputes over probing irregularities could reshape the balance of the lower house. The official results will be announced before May 9 and only after the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, which will take place between the 4th and 6th of the same month. The Prayuth government will remain in office until then.