Thailand's opposition secured a stunning election win on Sunday after trouncing parties allied with the military, setting the stage for a flurry of deal-making over forming a government in a bid to end nearly a decade of conservative, army-backed rule.
The liberal Move Forward party and the populist Pheu Thai Party were far out in front with 99% of votes counted, but it was far from certain either will form the next government, with parliamentary rules written by the military after its 2014 coup skewed in its favour.
Incredible result for progressives and those of us who believe the military has no role in a democratic government. The current
dictator prime minister's party only received 13% of the total votes. It’s clear that the majority of Thai population does not want military rule to continue.
But we can’t celebrate too soon. The system is rigged in favor of the pro-military camp and a minority government is within the realm of possibility.
As of early Monday, it remained unclear who would ultimately lead the country. The junta rewrote the country’s Constitution in 2017 so that selecting the prime minister would come down to a joint vote between the 250-member military-appointed Senate and the popularly elected House of Representatives. The decision could take weeks or months.
Such is the story of Thai politics. We’ve had more military coup d’états than any other country in the world. Since absolute monarchy was abolished in 1932, there have already been thirteen successful coups, averaging one for every seven years. I’ve had the pleasure of living through two of those myself.
On Thursday, Narongpan Jitkaewthae, Thailand’s army chief, took pains to assure the public that things would be different this time.
He said that the country had learned its lessons from its past, and that “politics in a democratic system must continue,” although he added that he “cannot guarantee” that another coup would not happen.
What a fucking joke.