Tue, Mar 26, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Rival parties claim right to form Thai government

WAITING GAME:The results of 350 races have been released, but the full vote counts that will determine the allocation of 150 House seats will not be available until Friday

AP, BANGKOK

Pheu Thai Party prime minister candidate Sudarat Keyurapha, left, smiles as Secretary-General Phumtham Wechayachai adjusts a microphone for her during a news conference at the party’s headquarters in Bangkok yesterday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

A military-backed party that based on unofficial results won the most votes in Thailand’s first election since a 2014 coup yesterday said that it would try to form a government, after a rival party also claimed it had the right to govern.

The conflicting claims following Sunday’s election highlight the deep divisions in Thailand, which has been wracked by political instability for nearly two decades.

Uttama Savanayana, head of the Palang Pracharat Party that is backed by coup leader and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, said it would contact like-minded parties to form a new administration.

However, earlier in the day, Sudarat Keyuraphan, leader of the Pheu Thai Party that was ousted in the coup, said it would try to form a government, because it won the most constituency races.

The party is allied with exiled former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

“As we have said before, the party with the most seats is the one that has received the confidence from the people to set up the government,” Sudarat said.

The party faces an uphill battle, because selection of the next prime minister will be decided by the 500-member lower house as well as a 250-member junta-appointed Senate.

The Election Commission announced the results of 350 constituency races, but said full vote counts, which are needed to determine the allocation of 150 other seats in the House of Representatives, would not be available until Friday.

Unofficial results show Palang Pracharat had the highest popular vote, which along with the appointed Senate puts Prayuth in a relatively strong position to stay in office and cobble together a coalition government.

However, analysts said the next government is likely to be unstable and short-lived, whichever party leads it.

Under the convoluted election system created by the junta, 350 of the lower house members are elected from constituencies and 150 are allocated to parties based on share of the nationwide popular vote.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the anti-junta Future Forward Party, which polled in a strong third place after scooping up first-time voters, said the party would not nominate him as a prime ministerial candidate to avoid a political deadlock.

He urged all parties that support a true democracy to form a coalition to trump the spoiling effect of the votes of 250 junta-appointed senators.

Election Commission Secretary-General Jarungwit Phumma yesterday defended the commission’s handling of Sunday’s vote and said delays in announcing full results reflect its duty to ensure the election is free and fair.

“Elections in our country are not like other countries,” he said.

“We have laws to determine whether the election was free and fair or not. It needs to go through the process of orange, yellow, red cards before results are announced,” Jarungwit said, referring to different levels of seriousness for election violations.

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