Thai voters reject military dictatorship – give landslide victory to opposition


On May 14 general elections Thai voters have rejected military dictatorship continued under the garb of military-backed parties that have ruled the Southeast Asian country for nearly a decade while reformist opposition has won the most seats and the largest share of the popular vote.

According to media report, opposition parties in Thailand swept the board in Sunday’s nationwide election as voters delivered a powerful rebuke of the military-backed establishment that has ruled since a 2014 coup, capping years of rising anger over how conservative cliques have governed the kingdom.

Turnout was at a record high as voters flocked to calls for change, setting the scene for a potentially dramatic showdown as parties now begin jostling for coalition support to form a government under a junta-era constitution that still gives the military significant sway.

In the early hours of May 15, 2023, Move Forward’s leader Pita Limjaroenrat, who rode a wave of youth support on social media, tweeted his readiness to assume the leadership. He said: “We believe that our beloved Thailand can be better, and change is possible if we start today … our dream and hope are simple and straightforward, and no matter if you would agree or disagree with me, I will be your prime minister. And no matter if you have voted for me or have not, I will serve you”.

According to latest information, Move Forward has won 112 out of 400 constituency MP seats and 14.1 million votes for party-list MPs, narrowly beating Pheu Thai which also had 112 constituency seats but only 10.8 million party-list votes.

Bhumjaithai Party was in third place with 68 constituency MPs and Palang Pracharath was fourth with 39 constituency MPs.

Third place in party-list contest was PM Prayut’s United Thai Nation Party with 4.67 million votes, followed by the Bhumjaithai Party with 1.12 million votes.

Meanwhile in on May 14 evening, two Pheu Thai prime ministerial candidates said the party that comes out on top in the general election has the right to lead the new government as per democratic principles. The announcement paves the way for Pita Limjaroenrat of Move Forward to become Thailand’s next prime minister.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra and Srettha Thavisin were speaking to the press at party headquarters as opposition partners Pheu Thai and Move Forward swept to victory in the election.

“People’s voices are the most important and we respect people’s decisions. The party that comes out on top will have the right to propose the PM candidate”, she said.

Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew had earlier expressed confidence that his party would sweep up to 310 of the 500 House seats, thus neutralizing votes from senators when the next prime minister is elected.

However, a coalition government led by Move Forward and Pheu Thai now looks like the most likely outcome.

Although Thai election results clearly show – people have rejected military’s role in politics, if we look into the past records of Thailand’s politics, we can see, in most cases, military establishment had intercepted in democratically elected governments – as it did with Yingluck Shinawatra and had forcibly grabbed power. Now with the result of the latest election, though there is hope of democracy returning to Thai politics and end of military intervention, it is yet difficult to reject the risk of repetition of past incidents in the country. If Thailand can be salvaged from the repeated interference of military establishment, it may have impact of Thailand’s nearest neighbors – particularly Myanmar, where military regimes have been repeatedly booting democracy under numerous pretenses.

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