Thai opposition seeks landslide as election campaign wraps up

Bangkok, May 12 (EFE).- Thailand’s opposition parties on Friday appealed to the people to hand them a landslide victory in Sunday’s elections against pro-military groups, even as the campaign for the polls came to a close.

The main opposition parties Pheu Thai and Move Forward have together amassed 70 percent support in pre-election surveys as Thai voters appear increasingly tired of the clout of the military, which seized power in a coup in 2014 and backed the incumbent government in the 2019 elections, marred by a lack of transparency as armed forces nominated their own lawmakers.

The former military junta (2014-2019) continues to hold the right to nominate 250 members of the 500-seat lower house of the parliament, which means that the pro-democracy opposition requires to win at least 376 seats to appoint its own prime minister.

With nearly 40 percent of the respondents backing it , Pheu Thai is the pollsters’ favorite and a victory for it would mark the return of the powerful Shinawatra clan to power.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter of former PM and oligarch Thaksin Shinawatra, has emerged as the leading prime ministerial candidate.

“Of course I am confident, here comes victory,” Paetongtarn told EFE while arriving for her final campaign rally at the Impact Arena convention center in Bankok, where she was greeted with cheers by a large number of supporters wearing their trademark red t-shirts.

Srettha Thavisin, another of the three aspirants for the PM post in Pheu Thai, told EFE she was confident that the party would win more than 250 seats.

The phrase “landslide victory” was repeated many times in the songs at the event and by the Pheu Thai candidates.

“I believe that with Pheu Thai’s victory on Sunday, the country would return to the path of democracy. The time of the soldiers is over,” Lekki, a f23-year-old set to vote for the first time, told EFE.

Move Forward, led by its PM candidate Pita Limjaroenrat, is second in the polls with 33.96 percent support and is popular among the youth with an agenda focused on democratizing the country and ending inequality.

Limjaroenrat is the only candidate who has vowed to end compulsory military draft and the controversial lese-majeste law, which criminalizes perceived insults to the monarchy with up to 15 years in prison.

The dissolution of Move Forward’s predecessor, Future Forward party, in 2020 was one of the triggers for widespread pro-democracy protests led by students, who broke the taboo of speaking against the monarchy by proposing reforms.

Out of the pro-military parties, the ruling United Thai Nation has the highest support in polls at 12.08 percent.

The party is led by incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, the former junta chief who was appointed as the country’s leader in 2019 despite Pheu Thai winning the highest number of seats.

Even though Thai military chief Narongpan Jittkaewtae on Thursday ruled out the possibility of a military coup after elections, this may not assuage such concerns as Prayut had made similar promises before seizing power in 2014

Thailand has witnessed 13 coups since absolute monarchy was abolished in 1932.

The most recent coups were against the government of Thaksin in 2006 and his sister Yingluck’s administration in 2014. EFE


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