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March 29, 2019

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Pro-army party wins Thailand popular vote

Thailand’s Election Commission announced yesterday that the country’s pro-army party, which is seeking to keep the current junta leader in power, had won the popular vote.

But the announcement does not make clear the overall winner of Sunday’s general election, the first since a 2014 military coup, due to the complicated formula used to allocate seats in parliament.

Both the pro-army Palang Pracharat Party and a seven-party anti-junta “democratic front” have claimed a mandate to form the next government.

But it is unclear if either side will be able to gather enough votes in parliament to form a workable government.

Palang Pracharat won the popular vote with 8.4 million ballots.

The main opposition Pheu Thai Party, whose elected government was toppled in the coup, won 7.9 million votes.

“These numbers are fully-counted results officially reported by each constituency,” said Krit Urwongse, deputy secretary-general of the Election Commission.

The results represented 100 percent of the ballots counted but remain unofficial until final results are officially announced on May 9.

The numbers were for the nationwide popular vote.

Breakdowns of the parties’ shares of the vote in each of the 350 constituencies were also released.

The commission has not announced the full number of seats for each party in the 500-seat House of Representatives.

Results for the lower house’s 350 directly elected “constituent seats” showed Pheu Thai with 137 and the Palang Pracharat with 97.

The remaining 150 House of Representatives seats are allocated according to a complex formula.

This formula includes factoring in the total number of votes for each party.

The vote numbers released yesterday should allow a clearer view of how the 150 party seats will be divided. The commission itself has said it would not announce the party seats until May 9.

On Wednesday, the Pheu Thai-led “democratic front” of seven parties claimed to have a combined 255 seats based on partial results, saying the majority in the House of Representatives gave it the right to try to form a government.

Pheu Thai is made up of loyalists of a former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and has lived in self-exile since 2008 to avoid a graft conviction he said was politically motivated.

A government that had been led by his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was overthrown in the 2014 coup.

Palang Pracharat, which campaigned on keeping on coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha as an elected prime minister, said it had the popular mandate because it had won the most votes nationwide.

It said it was in no hurry to form a coalition before the announcement of the official results.


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