With 20 percent of the votes counted so far, the Phayu Thai Party is leading with 22 percent of the votes for the House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament. He leads with 21 percent of the vote in a separate nationwide poll for the 100 members elected to the Senate through proportional representation.
Thailand’s main opposition parties are leading in early vote counting for Sunday’s general election. It is seen as a significant opportunity for change nine years after incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha came to power in a 2014 coup. With 20 percent of the votes counted so far, the Phayu Thai Party is leading with 22 percent of the votes for the House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament. He leads with 21 percent of the vote in a separate nationwide poll for the 100 members elected to the Senate through proportional representation.
At the same time, another opposition party Move Forward Party is in second place. Prayuth’s United Thai Nation party is fifth in the House of Representatives with seven percent of the votes cast, but third in the Senate with seven percent of the votes cast. The Pheu Thai party, led by Paetongtarn Shinawatra, is predicted to have at least a clear majority in the 500-member lower house. The 400 members of the House are elected by direct vote. Prayuth is contesting against the daughter of a politician who is a staunch opponent of the military.
Prayuth is running against billionaire businessman and daughter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Petongtarn Shinawatra. Shinawatra was the country’s prime minister from 2001 to 2006. Thaksin was ousted from power in a 2006 military coup. His relative Yingluck Shinawatra became prime minister in 2011, but was ousted in a coup led by Prayut. Voting ended at 5 p.m. local time. After casting his vote, Paitangtaran said that every vote is important for effecting change in Thailand and he has high hopes for the final outcome.
However, who will lead the next government will not be decided by Sunday’s vote alone. The prime minister will be selected at a joint meeting of the lower house and the 250-member Senate in July. The winner would need to get at least 376 votes and no party is likely to do so on their own. The Phayu Thai Party won the most seats in the 2019 election, but its arch-rival and military-backed Palang Pracharat Party forged an alliance with Prayut. Prayut is seeking re-election.
However, this time the support of the army is divided between the two parties. Prayut is supported by the United Thai Nation party and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, a former general. Pravit is a top leader of Palang Pracharat Party. Prime Minister Prayut has been accused of a faltering economy, lapses in his handling of the pandemic and thwarting democratic reforms. “The increase in youth voter turnout and general awareness of the damage caused by military rule could be key factors in determining the outcome of this election,” said Tyrell Haberkorn, an expert in Thai studies at the University of Wisconsin. After nine years of military rule, the people are ready for a change.
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