In the Thai General Elections held on 14th May, the populist and democratic parties pulled off a stunning victory, defeating the military-backed parties by a huge margin.
Politics of Thailand Before the Elections
Thailand has had a history of military coups, and takeovers. Even before 1996, 10 military coups had taken place in the country. Since then the military has taken over several times and plays an influential role in the politics of the country.
In 2014, after months of political instability, the caretaker government in Thailand was overthrown by the military and police in a coup d’etat. General Prayut Chan-o-Cha was made the Prime Minister. The Thai Monarchy supported the military in their rule.
Prayut Chan-o-Cha Image Source: AP
The military government brought in a new constitution in 2017, which allowed them to effectively control the government, regardless of who won the elections. The Prime Minister did not have to be a member of Parliament and was to be appointed by the Senate and Parliament.
An eight to ten-man body was set up, which appointed the 250 senators in the upper house of parliament. Six seats here were reserved for heads of the army, navy, air force, and police as well as the defence secretary and supreme commander of the army.
In 2019, elections were held, and Prayat continued to remain the Prime Minister, as his coalition mustered enough seats to have him appointed.
2023 Thailand Elections
The current PM was supported by a coalition consisting of 3 main parties, Palang Pracharath, Bhumjaithai, and Democrat parties along with many smaller parties like the United Thai Nation Party.
The opposition anti-military and pro-democracy parties consisted of the Pheu Thai and Move Forward parties.
Move Forward Party Leader Pita Limjaroenrat, Image Source: Reuters
Out of a total of 500 seats, 251 were needed for a majority. Campaigning was mainly focused on the economy and on the government’s response to COVID-19. However progressive and social questions were also picked up during the campaigning.
The elections were held on 14 May and the results were announced on 15 May.
In a shocking result, the Pheu Thai party won 141 seats, and the Move Forward party won 151 seats, giving them the combined majority.
While the pro-democracy parties in Thailand have pulled off a spectacular win, all is not well just yet. Due to the Senate being required to approve a Prime Minister’s appointment, it is believed that the military still has large-scale influence and can block any opposition candidate. While the opposition members have the majority in the House of Representatives, the Senate is still a roadblock in their path.