See More on Facebook

Politics

Thaksin-linked Pheu Thai leads pro-junta party in initial tally

Counting not done after Election Commission says its systems experienced technical failure.


Written by

Updated: March 26, 2019

Pheu Thai, a political party linked to exiled tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, led with 137 of 350 constituency seats in an initial tally, followed by the military-backed Palang Pracharath party with 97 seats, according to data released by the Election Commission of Thailand on Monday (March 25).

The count, which did not include 150 party-list seats, showed that both major parties would need to form a coalition to take power in the 500-member lower house of parliament.

The youthful Future Forward Party, a new party with a stridently anti-junta stance, bagged 30 constituency seats, according to preliminary figures released by the commission.

The Election Commission released unofficial results of Sunday’s landmark poll at 4pm (5pm Singapore time) on Monday, amid allegations of election irregularities. It said that initial vote counts were accurate even though its computers were attacked, Bloomberg said.

Official results will not be known until May 9, several days after the coronation ceremony for King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

In a brief press conference early on Monday afternoon, commission secretary-general Jarungwit Phumma attributed conflicting vote count figures released on Sunday night to “human error”, and pledged to investigate all irregularities if the evidence was strong enough.

The commission called off the release of results at the last minute on Sunday night.

On Monday, the Pheu Thai party – which is estimated to have bagged the most number of seats in the Lower House – issued a statement demanding a probe into some three million “ghost” ballots that appeared in 10 provinces.

In Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai provinces, it alleged, the number of ballots cast exceeded the number of eligible voters by over 400,000 in each province. This phenomenon was detected in Bangkok as well, it alleged.

On Twitter, “Election Fraud” in the Thai language was a top-trending hashtag.

Pheu Thai’s chief rival is the Palang Pracharath Party, which is aligned with the five-year-old military government and is trying to get prime minister and former coup leader Prayut Chan-o-cha returned as premier.

According to the Election Commission’s earlier tally, with 94 per cent of the votes counted, Palang Pracharath had secured 7.7 million votes and Pheu Thai 7.2 million. In third place was the Future Forward Party, with 5.3 million votes.

But it is the number of constituency seats held by each party, not total votes secured, that determines who will dominate the 500-seat House of Representatives.

Despite official tallies not being released yet earlier on Monday, both the pro-army Palang Pracharath and Thaksin-linked Pheu Thai parties had each claimed victory.

The Palang Pracharat party said on Monday it aims to form a government after winning the most votes, Reuters reported, with party spokesman Kobsak Pootrakool saying the party expects to gather 251 seats in the 500-seat House of Representatives to form a government.

“Palang Pracharat will talk to like-minded parties who share the same ideology and standpoint to move the country forward, which will take a while,” Mr Kobsak told reporters.

Meanwhile Bloomberg reported on Monday that Pheu Thai said they would seek to form a government after the party won the most seats in the election and the military-appointed Senate should follow the wishes of voters, according to comments from Sudarat Keyuraphan, the party’s candidate for prime minister.

“We’ll try to form a government coalition right away because that’s how people voted,” Ms Sudarat said. “We stood by our position that we won’t support the continuation of the military regime.”

Under the Constitution introduced after the 2014 coup, 250 appointed senators, mostly handpicked by the junta will vote jointly with the elected 500 Lower House members on their choice of prime minister.

To wield power in Parliament, a party or coalition must secure at least 376 seats, representing more than half of the 750 combined Lower House and Senate seats.

With most of the 250 Senate seats already aligned with the junta, this means that pro-Prayut parties need only muster another 126 seats in the election in order get him chosen as premier.

Analysts warn, however, that this arrangement throws policymaking into uncertain territory, as a minority government may struggle to get future laws passed.

Pheu Thai belongs to a political faction linked to deposed and fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra which has won every election since 2001. Royalist military factions, however, revile him for his populist policies mostly targeted at the populous upcountry regions.

This bitter divide had consumed the Kingdom until recently, with the entry of some seven million first-time voters with faint memory of the past turmoil.

On the eve of Thailand’s first election in eight years, the Royal Household Bureau issued a statement urging Thais to support “good people”.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Politics

Hong Kong government blasts riots

Hong Kong police chief blasts Sha Tin violence which leaves six people seriously injured. Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam broke her silence on Monday afternoon (July 15)  to condemn “rioters” and praise police after violent clashes on Sunday night that left two people in critical condition and four in a serious state. Mrs Lam said the police had acted “professionally” and practised “restrain” in dealing with the group of protesters who hung around New Town Plaza shopping mall in Sha Tin, hours after a rally had ended. Speaking to the media at a Tai Po hospital, where six officers are still being treated, she said the police’s duty is to uphold the law and those who broke the law have to be taken to task. “Hong Kong society will not condone such violence,” she added. Secretary for Security John Lee, who also visited the hospital, told reporters


By The Straits Times
July 16, 2019

Politics

Chinese economy grows at slowest rate in decades

Growth slumps to 27-year low in China, with talk of more aggressive stimulus measures. China’s economy grew 6.2 per cent in the second quarter of this year, its slowest rate in 27 years, as the country’s trade war with the United States exacted its toll. Analysts said they expect economic growth to continue to weaken for the rest of this year, which would likely prompt more aggressive stimulus measures from Beijing. Data released on Monday (July 15) by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that gross domestic product growth in the second quarter had slowed from 6.4 per cent in the first quarter of this year, coming in largely within expectations. The economy grew by 6.3 per cent for the first half of the year, according to the NBS. The figure is still within the 6 to 6.5 per cent target that Beijing has set for full year GDP growth. Last year, Chin


By The Straits Times
July 16, 2019

Politics

Hong Kong protests: Chaos speads to Sha Tin mall after rally ends

Protests continue, this time against Chinese vendors. Violent clashes between law enforcers and some protesters erupted yet again on Sunday (July 14) following a largely peaceful march hours earlier in the New Territories town of Sha Tin. About three hours after the rally ended at 5pm, police in riot gear began clearing the streets, setting off a game of cat and mouse with them and protesters trying to corner one another. Tensions peaked at about 9.30pm when officers armed with shields and batons entered New Town Plaza mall in Sha Tin and tried to disperse the crowd that was hiding there, resulting in chaos. Police officers were seen chasing after a protester, hitting him with batons and ripping his clothes off as they tried to pin him down before he managed to flee to safety with help from fellow protesters, who were trying to dodge pepper spray. Elsewhere in the mall, protesters surround


By The Straits Times
July 15, 2019

Politics

India asks Commonwealth to readmit Maldives

Maldives pulled out of commonwealth under previous administration over human rights concerns. India has called upon for fast-tracking the process of readmission of the Maldives to the Commonwealth. This was conveyed by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar at the 19th Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers’ Meeting (CFAMM) in London on Wednesday. “The External Affairs Minister, in his remarks, congratulated the member countries on the 70th anniversary of Commonwealth. He also noted that India is well on the path of fulfilling all the commitments made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at CHOGM 2018. The EAM called for fast-tracking of the process of re-admission of Maldives to the Commonwealth,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement. New Delhi’s support for the Indian Ocean archipelago came weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Male on his first overseas trip after being re-


By The Statesman
July 12, 2019

Politics

Why is Korea so dependent on Japanese materials?

Korea’s neglect in basic technologies leaves major industries vulnerable. The aggravating trade dispute with Japan reveals some hard truths about South Korea’s lack of basic technologies despite being dubbed as a tech powerhouse, not to mention the dire need to diversify its supply channels to reduce its heavy dependence on the neighboring nation. On July 1, the Japanese government tightened the export process to Korea of three classes of hi-tech materials crucial to the production of chips and display panels and removing it from the white list. The materials include fluorinated polyimide, photoresist and hydrogen fluoride, which are dominated by Japanese companies globally. Fluorinated polyimide is used to make flexible organic light-emitting diode displays. Photoresist is a thin layer applied to transfer a circuit pattern to a semiconductor substrate. Hydrogen fluoride, or etching gas, is needed i


By The Korea Herald
July 12, 2019

Politics

Japan’s export curbs fuel political feud in S. Korea

Seoul is in political turmoil as politicians tackle the best course of action to pursue with Japan. Japan’s decision to impose export restrictions on key hi-tech semiconductor and electronics materials to South Korea is having a political fallout here. President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday reiterated Seoul’s position that the measures are politically motivated, while criticizing Japan’s attempt to justify its actions by linking them to sanctions on North Korea. “The Japanese government is taking measures that impact our economy for political goals, and making comments that link (the measures) to North Korean sanctions without any basis. It is not beneficial for bilateral relations and security cooperation,” Moon said at a meeting with leaders of South Korea’s largest corporations on Wednesday.


By The Korea Herald
July 11, 2019