Thais went to the polls yesterday (March 24) in the first general election since the Thai military seized power in May, 2014. The result may be a win for the country, but it has seen the country’s Election Commission’s (ECs) reputation in tatters.
Against a back-drop of suspicion and distrust in the EC prior to the election, polling booth reports by the EC throughout election night were erratic, with more than a handful of reports showing more votes cast than registered voters.
With 93 per cent of the vote counted, but with no indication to what level of accuracy, the EC last night abruptly cancelled a scheduled unofficial results announcement.
Today the Thai public is no wiser. A planned 2pm announcement by the EC at which unofficial figures were scheduled to be announced was abruptly cancelled at the last minute, with the EC saying unofficial results will be announced at 4pm. Official figures won’t be announced until May 9.
Voter turn-out is expected to be lower than at previous Thailand general elections at about 70 per cent, however with the EC showing 31,385,307 votes cast by 20,611,660 out of a total voter pool of 50,098,986 its impossible to reach any meaningful conclusions.
Additionally, 1,500 advanced voting ballots from New Zealand arrived at district polling booths after the polls had closed and were excluded from the tallying.
Lack of credibility
Some Thai political commentators are are already labeling the 2019 Thailand general election as Thailand’s ‘dirtiest election’, a reference traditionally applied to the 1957 Thailand general election which came after 10 years of military rule under Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram.
Criticism of the EC, the caretaker government, and caretaker prime minister over the results has been fierce, with Thai social media commentators not holding back their scorn.
Caretaker prime minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has refused to be drawn into the controversy, with the EC also pulling down the shutters.
With what was thought to be about 93 per cent of the vote counted last night it appeared that Thais had shunned traditional parties, throwing their support behind the newly minted pro-junta/military Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).
The Democrat Party, Thailand’s oldest political party, looked like it had been almost wiped-off the Thai political landscape, while the one-year-old Future Forward Party (FFP) appeared to have emerged as a new voice in Thai politics.
However, until the EC can provide some figures that have credibility, the true result of the 2019 Thailand general election is anyone’s guess.
This story was last updated at 18:35 local time: The Thailand EC announced late Monday afternoon that the Shinawatra-aligned Phue Thai Party (PTP) had won 138 of the 350 constituency seats available, ahead of the pro-junta Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) with 96, Bhumjaithai Party 39 and the Democrat Party 33.
The Future Forward Party (FFP) reportedly won 30 seats, while Prachachart won 7, Chartthaipattana Party 6, and Ruam Palang Prachachart Thai 1.
The remainder of the 500 lower house seats, allocated on a percentage of votes cast, is expeccted to be announced tomorrow, March 26, after raw data from polling booths is examined to calculate exactly how many votes have been cast.
- Thailand election: Confusion as results of post-coup vote delayed (BBC)
- Constituency Seats Result Announced: Live Blog (Khaosod English)
- Unofficial poll results delayed again as complaints mount (Bangkok Post)
- Thailand Election Results Delayed; Anti-junta Party Claims Win (News18)
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia.
He has covered major world events including the 1991 pillage riots in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010 and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.