Thailand to vote in a crucial step towards consolidating democracy

By Nayara Batschke

Bangkok, May 13 (EFE).- Some 52 million Thai citizens will vote on Sunday in the highly divisive general elections, considered a crucial turning point for the country after a decade overshadowed by military rule.

If the opposition wins, it could potentially signify a shift toward democracy.

The high-octane campaign has been characterized by the battle between the frontrunner pro-democracy opposition, led by the Pheu Thai and Move Forward parties.

On the other side, there are the pro-military factions, mainly represented by ex-general and current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, who led the 2014 coup.

He is seeking re-election under the banner of the conservative United Thai Nation party.

Although the surveys suggest a significant lead for the opposition, it won’t be an easy task to secure the 376 seats required to govern.

This is because the election for the prime minister involves a vote by the 500 members of Parliament and 250 members of the Senate.

The military-drafted constitution allows 250 senators, all handpicked by the junta that seized power in 2014, to vote in the election of the next prime minister.

According to the most recent data from the National Institute for Development Administration (NIDA), Pheu Thai, led by the powerful Shinawatra clan, would win with more than 38 percent of the vote, followed by Move Forward (nearly 34).

The United Thai Nations Party of the current prime minister

is predicted to get only 12 percent.

According to experts who spoke to EFE, there are several “uncertainties” surrounding the elections.

These include whether the military will accept the results, whether the winning party will be able to form a coalition to establish the government, and even concerns about potential party dissolution, as seen in previous elections.

Nonetheless, they believe that, for the first time in a while, the conflict between the conservative and progressive factions has managed to transcend the streets and materialize into the electoral arena.

Kanokrat Lertchoosakul, a political scientist, told EFE that it was the first time that the entire political spectrum, from the far-right to the social democrats, was contending for parliamentary seats.

“In the past, most of the battle between the different ideological camps took place on the street,” Lertchoosakul said.

It is precisely the diversity of political perspectives represented in these elections that make them “historic.”

The elections could be a crucial step in the development of 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.

Lertchoosakul said the election would decide the future of the nation, not only the formation of the new government.

Related Articles

Back to top button