Thailand’s election is underway, opposition support tops poll | Wagon Radio 720

BANGKOK (AP) – Eight years after incumbent Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha first came to power in a 2014 coup, Thai voters took to the polls Sunday in an election hailed as a pivotal opportunity for change. was heading for He is currently at odds with the military’s greatest nemesis, the politician’s daughter.

The opposition Pheu Thai Party, led by Petongtarn Shinawatra, is widely expected to win at least a healthy number of seats in the 500-seat lower house.

But Sunday’s vote alone won’t decide who will be the next head of government. The prime minister is elected in July by a joint session of the House of Commons and the 250-member Senate. The winner will need to secure at least 376 votes, and it is unlikely that any party will achieve it alone.

The Pheu Thai Party won the most seats in the last election in 2019, but its biggest rival, the military-backed Paran Pracharath Party, managed to form a coalition with Prayuth as prime minister. It relies on unanimous support from the Senate, whose members share the military’s conservative views and was appointed by the military government after President Prayut’s coup.

Prayuth is running for re-election, but the military is split between two parties this year. Prayuth has the support of the Thai Unity Party. His deputy prime minister, Prawit Wongsuwan, is another former general and standard bearer of Paran Pracharat.

Prime Minister Prayut has been accused of hurting young voters in particular, including a sluggish economy, flawed handling of the pandemic and blocked democratic reforms.

“Rising youth votes and public perceptions of the damage done by military rule are key factors likely to determine the outcome of this election,” said Tyrell Haberkorn, a Thai studies expert at the University of Wisconsin. rice field. “After nine years of military rule, people are ready to embrace change, even those who were previously uninterested in embarking on a turbulent journey.”

The Pheu Thai Party is the latest in a string of parties linked to populist billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted as prime minister in a military coup in 2006. Petongtarn Shinawatra is his daughter. His aunt Yingluck Shinawatra, who became prime minister in 2011, was overthrown in a coup led by President Prayuth.

The most popular of the three prime ministerial candidates registered with the party, Thay Hung and Phetong Tarn are well ahead of their rivals in opinion polls. But there are no signs that conservatives in this military-backed country are taking a liking to them.

“I think the conservative royalists who support the military and the monarchy are turning their backs on the wall. Change is coming and they have to find a way to deal with it,” said Titi, a political scientist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. Nan Ponsudhirak said.

That means Pheu Thai will have to choose its coalition partner candidates carefully after Sunday’s elections.

The Forward Party is second in the polls, an ideological compatriot looking to cut off the wings of the military. But outspoken support for small-scale reforms of the monarchy is not received by most conservatives, whose institutions are sacred, and has terrified other potential coalition partners.

The Pheu Thai Party looks for partners in another direction by striking a deal with the Paran Pracharath Party and its leader Prawit, which has little to do with the 2014 coup and the hard line pursued by Prayuth. Many people think that Thailand’s election is underway, opposition support tops poll | Wagon Radio 720

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