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Two Thai opposition parties secured the largest share of the vote in Sunday’s parliamentary polls, delivering a stinging rebuke to Thailand’s military leaders who have ruled the country since their 2014 coup, the New York Times reported.
Election results showed that the progressive Move Forward Party won 151 seats in the 500-member lower house of parliament. Another opposition party, Pheu Thai, led by Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the daughter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, secured 141 seats.
Meanwhile, the United Thai Nation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha only gained 36 seats.
Soon after the results announcement, the two opposition parties said they would form a coalition. Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of Move Forward, added that the new political alliance, which is made up of five parties, would control 309 of the 500 seats in the legislature.
The election results showed that Thai voters want a change from the military junta, with many having become disillusioned with the never-ending cycle of coups and protests that have gripped Thailand for years.
But analysts said it was unclear if the military junta would easily relinquish power. They cautioned that Thailand’s military-appointed upper house of parliament could block Pita’s appointment as prime minister.
Questions also remain about whether the upper house would tolerate changes to the status quo, such as Move Forward’s proposal to amend a law criminalizing criticism of Thailand’s monarchy – a taboo socially and legally in the Southeast Asian country.
Even so, observers noted that if the military-controlled upper house blocked Pita’s appointment it would face potential mass demonstrations and plunge the country into more political turmoil.