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Big Win for Opposition Parties in Thailand.

As the ballot boxes were tallied on Monday, it brought a change in Thailand after nine years under a former general who took power in a coup, with the main opposition parties easily beating other contenders in the general elections. The opposition Move Forward Party outperformed even when the optimistic projections appeared poised to capture almost 33 House seats in Bangkok's capital.


Along with the Pheu Thai Party, the favored opposition group, Move Forward, campaigned to reform the military and the monarchy.

Move Forward puts those issues closer to the heart of its platform, earning a more radical reputation. It has outspoken support for minor monarchy reforms while winning younger voters and antagonized conservatives committed to the royal institution.

Incumbent Prime Minister Prayuth Chan – Ocha, who came into power in a 2014 coup, was blamed for a stuttering economy, pandemic response shortcomings, and thwarting democratic reforms.

Sao Wanee T Alexander, Professor at Ubon Ratchathani University, northeastern Thailand, said, "This is people saying that they could no longer take it. The people are very frustrated. They want change, and they could achieve it."

More than 99% of ballots were counted on early Monday as the Move Forward appeared to have a slight edge over the Pheu Thai Party, whose leaders conceded on Sunday that they might not finish on top following voter turnout of about 39 million, or 75% of registered voters.

According to Pita Limjaroenrat, "Whether you agree or disagree with me, I will be your Prime Minister. Whether you have voted for me or not, I will serve you."

Move Forward leader Pita Limijaroenart tweeted that he is ready to bring about change, and it should be here in the country as the 30th Prime Minister steps in. Sunday’s winner has not been assured the right to form the new government.

A joint session of the 500–seat House of Representatives will be held with the 250–member Senate in July to select the Prime Minister, a process widely seen as undemocratic because the military-appointed senators will vote along with the elected lawmakers.

Move Forward captured 24% of the popular votes for the 400 constituency seats in the House of Representatives and nearly 36% for seats allocated in a separate nationwide ballot for 100 members elected by proportional representation.

Pheu Thai lagged slightly behind with just over 23% for constituency seats and about 27% for the party lists. The tally of constituency votes gave 113 House seats to Move Forward and 112 to Pheu Thai, according to unofficial results on Monday from Election Commission.

Prayuth’s United Thai Nation Party held the fifth spot in the constituency vote with almost 9% of the total but placed third in the party preference with a tally close to 12% and 23 House seats in the constituency vote.

The three parties which contested the elections were considered the most likely to head a new government Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the 36 – year – old daughter of billionaire Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was favored in opinion polls to be the country’s next leader.

Move Forward's 42- year- old businessman leader Pita now seems a likely prospect as Pheu Thai won the most seats in the 2019 elections, but its archrival, the military–backed Palang Pracharath Party, cobbled together a coalition with Prayuth as prime minister and unanimous support from conservative Senate members appointed by the military government after Prayuth's coup.

“If the results were murky, or if the pro-military parties got more, then we would be looking at manipulation, trying to shave the margins. But the results are so clear and very difficult to overturn now,” said Thitinan, adding that if there were attempts to subvert the vote, there would be public anger and protests.

Move Forward's radical agenda includes reforming the military, getting rid of the draft, reducing the military's budget, making it more transparent and accountable, as well as constitutional change and bringing the army and monarchy within the constitution.

The party’s win over the populist juggernaut Pheu Thai is also significant. This is the first time a party linked with ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has lost an election since 2001.

Thailand's "two-party system was already breaking down in 2019, but it's continuing to break down this election," said Patton. In a press conference on Monday, Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat said the party would go forward with plans to amend the country’s strict lese majestic laws – a key campaign pledge despite the taboo surrounding any discussion of the royal family in Thailand.

One of his priorities is to support young people facing jail terms on these majestic charges. Pita warned that if the law remains as it is, the relationship between the Thai people and the monarchy will only worsen.

His policies "strike at the heart of the establishment," said Thitinan, and even talking about the monarchy openly "is an affront to the palace." The Move Forward leader said Monday that he wants to ally with the four other opposition parties to secure a majority in the lower house.

Opposition parties in Thailand win big


Edited by - Whitney Edna Ibe


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