Bangkok, May 15 (EFE).- Thailand’s Move Forward party, with an ambitious reformist agenda, unexpectedly won the country’s general elections, according to preliminary data published Monday.
The party led by Pita Limjaroenrat obtained more than 14 million party-list votes and 151 constituency seats, while Pheu Thai, which started as the favorite and linked to the powerful Shinawatra family, came second with almost 11 million party-list votes and 141 seats, the Electoral Commission said.
The United Thai Nation party, led by incumbent Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha came a lowly fifth in the number of constituency seats with 36 and 4.7 million party-list votes.
For its part, the Bhumjaithai Party, which promoted the decriminalization of marijuana, was given 71 seats and is the formation with the most seats in the current government.
In fourth place, with 40 seats, was Palang Pracharath, led by Defense Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan.
This supposes an unquestionable victory for the pro-democratic forces, which account for more than 60 percent of the votes, against conservative parties and those linked to the army, which have dominated the country’s political decade.
Five hundred parliamentarians of the lower house will now elect the prime minister together with 250 senators handpicked by the former military junta, in accordance to the constitution drafted by and rubber stamped under their rule.
This makes it difficult for Move Forward to form a government if they do not have the support of some of the senators, who differ ideologically with the reformist formation.
The winner must now initiate contacts with the rest of the parties to try to form a government.
Early Sunday morning, the 42-year-old Move Forward leader wrote on Twitter that he is “ready to be Thailand’s 30th Prime Minister” and vowed to serve all Thais whether they voted for him or not.
These elections have been seen as an opportunity to consolidate democracy in Thailand and leave behind almost a decade of power of Prayut, who came to office in 2014 through a coup and won elections in 2019 described as little transparent.
Move Forward received more votes than polls indicated with an ambitious program that includes reforming the controversial royal defamation law and reducing the power of the military in politics, as well as ending economic monopolies in the country.
Thailand has suffered 13 military coups since it abolished absolute monarchy in 1932 and has a strict law that punishes insults against the crown with up to 15 years in prison.