Thailand parliamentary election opposition polls ahead

05/14/2023 04:40 (act. 05/14/2023 04:50)

Paetongtarn Shinawatra challenges Prime Minister ©APA/AFP

Long-awaited parliamentary elections began in Thailand on Sunday morning (local time). 52 million eligible voters are called to the polls. The opposition has been ahead in the polls for months – especially Pheu Thai with front-runner Paetongtarn Shinawatra. The 36-year-old is heir to a wealthy dynasty of politicians. More recently, the boy-popular progressive party with lead candidate Pita Limjaroenrat (42) has caught up.

Prime Minister and former coup leader Prayut Chan-o-cha is also awaiting confirmation in office. Thanks to the new constitution instituted after the 2014 military coup, it has clear advantages. Polling stations are open from 8 am to 5 pm (3 am to 12 pm CEST). The unofficial results may be known later in the evening (local time). According to observers, it will be days before an official result is available.

There has been speculation in Thailand for weeks about possible coalitions. To become head of government, a candidate must obtain a majority of the 750 seats, i.e. 376 votes. Along with the 500 elected deputies, 250 unelected senators decide who becomes head of government. These were appointed by the military in 2018 and are believed to be loyal to Prayut. This means that the support of just under a third of the new deputies would be enough for the government camp to continue with a majority in parliament.