Thai Election Commission uses smokescreen − Vote accuracy decreased!
Thailand’s 2019 general elections on 24 March has been bogged with confusion and calls for greater transparency. The Thai Election Commission has been criticised over delays in publishing the preliminary results among other alleged irregularities − with certain districts having more votes than number of voters or even 50% of votes voided. A total of 110 complaints over the electoral process were filed, not including Thailand’s trending hashtags #ElectionCommissionExposed and #ElectionFraud2019 on Twitter and an online petition of 369 thousand signatures demanding the election commission to step down.
Tugging for parliamentary control
The preliminary results show that the anti-junta coalition is set to form the majority in the Lower House chamber of Thailand’s parliament. Forged from seven different political parties, the opposition coalition secured 255 of the 500 Lower House seats and claims to have the right to form the next government. The ‘pro-democracy’ coalition is led by the former ruling party, the Pheu Thai Party, and its prime ministerial hopeful, Sudarat Keyuraphan, who is a close ally to the exiled Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra.
However, the incumbent, pro-junta Palang Pracharat party which attained the popular vote, created a new constitution that allows the military to appoint all 250 senators in the Upper House chamber of the parliament. In Thailand, the combined votes of both the Lower and Upper House determines who gets to be PM. Since the military-appointed senators are likely to back a pro-junta prime ministerial hopeful, it is likely that the current PM and ex-Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, Prayut Chan-o-cha, will retain his seat of power in the next government.
We found democracy in a hopeless place?
While the full and official results of the election will be revealed on 9 May, it seems political gridlock is expected for the next Thai government, with the Lower House resisting the Upper House’s and the pro-junta PM’s moves. Nothing is guaranteed for the opposition, as history shows − the military has toppled the government twelve times since the end of absolute monarchy in the 1930s. Also, who’s to say we won’t see mass red-shirt-yellow-shirt protests again?