Surprising Twist In Thailand Elections As Voters Uproot Army Backed Rule
The surprising twist in Thailand elections as voters uproot army backed rulehave sent shockwaves through the country's political landscape with a resounding verdict in favor of the opposition party, Move Forward, which is calling for radical reform of Thailand's institutions.
Surprising Twist In Thailand Elections As Voters Uproot Army Backed Rule Causes Political Earthquake
Early results have exceeded all predictions, revealing that Move Forward has won 151 of the 500 seats in the lower house, surpassing the previous frontrunner, Pheu Thai, led by the daughter of ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
This unexpected outcome has been dubbed a "political earthquake" by analysts, signifying a significant shift in public opinion and a clear repudiation of the two military-aligned parties of the current government and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who came to power through a coup in 2014. The governing coalition managed to secure only 15% of the seats.
Move Forward's 42-year-old leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, expressed his elation to the BBC.
We didn't leave any stones unturned. People have had enough in the last decade. Now, it's a new day.- Pita Limjaroenrat, Move Forward's Leader
In a bid to consolidate power, Pheu Thai has announced its intention to join forces with Move Forward and four other smaller opposition parties. This coalition would secure over 60% of seats in the new parliament. However, despite this majority, they still face a hurdle in the form of the unelected senate, consisting of 250 members appointed by Prime Minister Prayuth.
The senators are allowed to participate in parliamentary votes for the next administration and are likely to oppose Move Forward's progressive agenda, particularly their pledge to amend the controversial lese majeste law.
Thai opposition parties deliver crushing blow to military rule in national election
As political negotiations unfold, concerns arise among Thai citizens that the military and its supporters may attempt to obstruct the winning parties from assuming office.
While a military coup is unlikely, there is the possibility of another court ruling disqualifying Move Forward on technical grounds, similar to what happened to its predecessor, Future Forward, in 2020. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the collaboration between Move Forward and Pheu Thai, whose relationship in the previous parliament was occasionally strained, remains uncertain.
Mr. Pita, a Harvard University graduate and skilled parliamentarian, is relatively untested in the challenging task of building and sustaining a coalition.
Nevertheless, the transformative impact of this election on Thailand's political landscape cannot be ignored. Prajak Kongkirati, a political scientist from Thammasat University, remarks, "The majority of votes reflect the need to escape from the 'Prayuth regime' and the yearning for change. It shows that people believe in the Move Forward demand for change - many more people than predicted."
Thai social media platforms have been flooded with messages of victory from Move Forward supporters, who proudly call themselves "organic canvassers." They describe the party's triumph as a "wind of change" and the "dawn of a new era."
Mr. Pita, expressed his readiness to become the country's 30th prime minister in his tweet.
We have the same dreams and hopes. And together we believe that our beloved Thailand can be better, and changes are possible if we start working on them today.- Pita Limjaroenrat on Twitter
The outcome of this election represents a significant departure from the past. It is astonishing to witness Move Forward, a party advocating for wholesale changes to Thailand's bureaucracy, economy, military influence, and even the laws safeguarding the monarchy, win more seats and votes than any of its competitors.
This mirrors the same issues that fueled the student-led protest movement in 2020, in which some of Move Forward's candidates played leading roles. The election results were greatly influenced by young, passionate voters who aligned themselves with Move Forward.
The weeks leading up to the election were filled with a palpable mood in favor of the young party. Thai social media platforms witnessed the explosion of new memes, with people showcasing their support for Move Forward by taking exaggerated, giant steps—a clear nod to the party's name. In addition, supporters donned bright orange shirts, flip flops, and sneakers—the party's campaign color.
Move Forward's candidates faced resource constraints compared to their rivals and relied heavily on social media and grassroots efforts, even resorting to using bicycles to convey their message. However, their vision for change appeared more coherent and appealing compared to other parties.
One crucial factor contributing to Move Forward's success was the widespread public desire for change. While voters under 26 years old constitute just 14% of Thailand's aging electorate of 52 million, they worked ardently to persuade older voters to support Move Forward, aiming to secure a better future for their generation.
Despite the strong mandate for change, there are lingering questions regarding whether the two reformist parties will be allowed to form a government. Mr. Pita expressed optimism during a media address.
With the consensus that came out of the election, it will be quite a hefty price to pay for someone who is thinking of abolishing the election results or forming a minority government... it is quite far-fetched for now. And I think the people of Thailand will not allow that to happen.- Pita Limjaroenrat, Move Forward's Leader
The upcoming political negotiations will undoubtedly be crucial in determining the path forward. The military and its allies may attempt to undermine the winning parties, but the people's support and desire for change will pose significant challenges to such endeavors. The election has undeniably brought about a transformed political landscape in Thailand, demonstrating that democracy cannot be taken for granted.
The victory of Move Forward signifies a monumental shift in Thailand's political dynamics, with voters choosing to reject the status quo and demand substantial reforms.
The party's success resonated strongly with the younger generation and those yearning for change, fueled by frustrations accumulated over the past decade. As Thailand navigates the complexities of a new political era, the expectations and aspirations of the people will play a pivotal role in shaping the country's future.
As the dust settles on this remarkable election, Thailand stands at a crossroads—a juncture where the will of the people intersects with the entrenched forces of the establishment. The coming weeks and months will determine whether the wave of change sweeping across the country will manifest in concrete reforms and a more inclusive political landscape.
Only time will tell if the stunning blow delivered to the army-backed rule will herald a new chapter in Thai politics, one marked by progressive policies, transparency, and the empowerment of its citizens.