Triumph for opposition in Thailand, military parties crushed. But there's a catch!

Sushim Mukul
Sushim MukulMay 15, 2023 | 12:52

Triumph for opposition in Thailand, military parties crushed. But there's a catch!

MFP leader Pita Limjaroenrat arrives for press conference at the party headquarter in Bangkok on May 15. (Photo credit: AFP)

Thailand's opposition parties are on the verge of securing a majority and registering a stunning victory against the conservative government led by the military.

With more than 99% of votes counted, the Move Forward party is projected to win 151 seats, and the Pheu Thai Party is in second place with 141 seats.

The results of Thailand general elections make way for the termination of the 9 years regime of the incumbent PM Prayuth Chan-ocha, who came to power in 2014 following a military coup.


Who stands where?

  • Pita Limjaroenrat led MFP secured 151 seats in the 500-member House of Representatives, followed by the PTP with 141 seats, reported Reuters.
  • A critical stakeholder in the outgoing military-backed government, led by Anutin Charnvirakul's Bhumjaithai Party was pushed to the third spot with just 71 seats.
  • The United Thai Party led by the incumbent Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha fell to the fifth position with just 36 seats.

What makes the results significant?

  • Thailand experienced a military coup in 2014 overthrowing the civilian government led by Prayut Chan-o-cha. The military junta seized power, drafted a new constitution, and suppressed all opposition through arrests and prosecutions.
  • In 2020 Thai protests, under the Free Youth umbrella sought to fix numerous problems in Thai society and the monarchy seeking to reinstate a civilian government. However, the demonstrations were crushed heavily.
An anti-government protester in 2020 covered her mouth against section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code that criminalised lese majeste in 2020.
(Photo Credit: GettyImages)
  • Thus the defeat of the military parties gives a clear picture that the Thai people want a strong democracy without military interference and are committed to change.
  • The incumbent government is seen as responsible for the crumbling economy, weak response to the pandemic and obstructing democratic changes, which remained a significant issue with younger voters.
  • The PTP victory is also linked to increased youth vote share and general awareness of the wrongdoings during military rule.

However, there is a catch!

  • Even after the ballot- mandate, the Move Forward Party forming a government is uncertain. It will need to have the PFP and other smaller parties in its fold as the coalition needs to secure 376 votes across the two houses to form a government.
  • The military-appointed 250-member senate remains an obstacle, as in the last 2019 election too, the senate voted unanimously for Prayuth Chan-ocha in spite of a much lesser seat- share than the PTP.
  • The role of the Senate needs to be closely monitored for foul play.
Last updated: May 15, 2023 | 12:52
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