Thai electoral body says pro-military party won popular vote

Pro-military Palang Pracharat party and opposition Pheu Thai both claimed they have mandate to form the next government.

Uttama Savanayana, Palang Pracharat Party leader, holds a news conference in Bangkok [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]
Uttama Savanayana, Palang Pracharat Party leader, holds a news conference in Bangkok [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]

Thailand‘s pro-army Palang Pracharat party won the popular vote in Sunday’s general election with 8.4 million ballots, the Election Commission said as it released unofficial results of the first election since a military coup in 2014.

In a news conference on Thursday, the commission did not say how many seats that would translate into.

Earlier, Krit Urwongse, deputy secretary-general of the Election Commission, said the main opposition Pheu Thai party, whose elected government was toppled in the coup, received 7.9 million votes.

The results represented 100 percent of the ballots counted but would remain unofficial until final results are announced on May 9.

The commission has not announced the full number of seats for each party in the 500-seat House of Representatives.

Results for the lower house’s 350 directly-elected “constituent seats” showed Pheu Thai with 137 and the Palang Pracharat with 97.

The remaining 150 House of Representatives seats are allocated according to a complex formula involving the total number of votes for each party.

However, parties have been calculating their share of the allocated seats based on partial results, and both Palang Pracharat and Pheu Thai have claimed they have a mandate to form the next government.

Nearly two million invalidated ballots, weak polling oversight, and bungling by election authorities may have wildly skewed initial numbers.

A fuller picture could emerge on Friday when the commission releases vote tallies for each constituency, used to determine the allocation of party seats in a complex formula.

Thailand’s long-delayed election is weighted in favour of the military and is taking place in a still-restrictive environment, but the keenly fought campaign has given a platform to politicians who have long been denied a voice under the military regime’s repressive rule, reawakening Thai hopes for democracy.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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