VICE Votes

Thailand's Pro-Military Party Is Leading Popular Vote

Some people are already growing suspicious of the general election's preliminary results.

by Edoardo Liotta
25 March 2019, 10:50pm

Royal Thai soldiers cast their votes on Sunday's general election. Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP

This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.

It has been a whirlwind election season in Thailand, one that has resulted in everything from made-for-social-media campaign posters to ongoing conversations about freedom of speech. Now, with over 90 percent of the ballots counted since Sunday's general election, the military junta-backed Palang Pracharath Party comes first with 7.6 million votes, though this is not enough for an outright majority in parliament.

This is a mere half a million more than the votes for the opposition party Pheu Thai, the BBC reports. Pheu Thai is the third instalment of a party formed by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Future Forward Party, a new and anti-junta party popular among young voters, were able to secure 5.2 million votes.

A senior government officials told CNBC that Thailand is looking at a coalition government, and that Palang Pracharth and Pheu Thai are in discussions with each other.

The results are pretty surprising to analysts, who say that Pheu Thai's popularity was growing, while anger towards the junta rule was becoming widespread, AFP reports.

Suspicion over the results is growing for various reasons. Though the 50 million people were eligible to vote, turnout was lower than predictions, at 64 percent. As much as 1.9 million ballots were invalidated, which didn’t sit well among Thais. Many took to social media, and hashtags which translate to “Election Commission screw-up” and “cheating the election” were amongst the top trends on Thai Twitter, as Reuters reports.

"There is suspicion about extra ballots where the number of ballots was higher than the number of voters in some districts,” Ladawan Wongsriwong, a spokeswoman from Pheu Thai told Reuters. “There is also suspicion about reports of vote-buying.”

She also added that the party was still considering whether to submit a complaint to the Election Commission.

As Thailand holds one of the highest global measures of inequality, voters who were hoping to weaken the power held by traditional elites and the military will be disappointed by the results so far.

A surprising debut was that of the youth-centred Future Forward party, who racked in over 5 million votes. This will possibly make it Thailand’s third-biggest party. The party’s spokeswoman, Pannika Wanich, said: “There are obviously some irregularities with the numbers because they don’t add up. This is making people skeptical of the election results.”

Thailand's Election Commission said that it will release official results by May 9.