Opposition takes early lead, but majority unlikely in Thai election
Bangkok, May 14 (EFE).- The opposition in Thailand was leading in the vote count for Sunday’s general election, but it seemed unlikely that any party would be able to secure a majority.
After counting 20 percent of the votes, the Pheu Thai party, connected to the influential Shinawatra family, obtained 99 out of 500 seats in the lower house.
Another opposition party, Move Forward, took the second spot with 90 seats, data from the electoral commission showed.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s conservative United Thai Nation won 27 seats. The ex-army general who led the coup in 2014 is running for re-election.
Some 52 million Thai citizens were eligible to vote in the highly divisive general election, considered a crucial turning point for the country after a decade overshadowed by military rule.
If Pheu Thai wins the election, the powerful Shinawatra family will return to power, with Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the daughter of exiled oligarch Taksin Shinawatra and a favored candidate for prime minister, at the helm.
The Shinawatras lost power in the 2014 coup.
The reformist Move Forward party has strong support among young people, with its main agenda being the democratization of Thailand and reducing military control.
The elections could be a crucial step in Thailand’s fledgling democracy, which has seen 13 coups since the end of the absolute monarchy and the adoption of the first constitution in 1932.
Although the exit polls suggest a significant lead for the opposition, it would not be easy to get the 376 seats required to form the government.
It is because the election for the prime minister involves a vote by the 500 parliament members and 250 members of the Senate.
The military-drafted constitution allows 250 senators, all handpicked by the junta, to vote in the election of the next prime minister. EFE