Amazing Thailand General Election

By Patipat Kittichokwattana

Thailand has passed the general election several weeks ago. This was over the past 8 years, far from the latest general election. Political activities have been seized out of sight since the 2014 military coup d’état. Thai people hope their votes will push military back to the place and bring a more democratic government to take responsibility for the bright and prosperity future. It caused enthusiastic young voters to participate in this general election.

March 24th was the judgement day. A lot of Thais took a long trip back to the hometown aimed to vote for their trusted candidate. There were several parties which likely touch the heart of the people namely Pheu Thai Party, Democrat Party, Palang Pracharath Party, and Future Forward Party. On the one side, it is the party who pursuing political virtue and conservativism. On the other side, it is the party that represent themselves as liberal idealism who fight against dictatorship. It’s a kind of continuing political fight I’ve seen for a long time. So sad.

As a voter, the new constitution and election act bring much more confusion and frustration. Firstly, the new constitution indicates 2 types of Members of Parliament (MP) which are constituency MP and party list MP, but the “single-ballot system” is used to cast all 2 types of MP. Secondly, due to single-ballot system, it requires a complicated calculation to identify party list MP. Interestingly, the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) has not clearly justified any specific calculation yet. Finally, since there is no formal result from ECT, we’re trapped in the dilemma between the 2 political fights as before.They explicitly claim their own rights to form a government. So amazing.

The election results found to have unexpected impacts. On the one hand, the new election system brings younger politicians to the parliament. Furthermore, a lot of 1-year established parties can gain substantial votes such as Palang Pracharath Party, Future Forward Party, Thai Liberal Party, New Economics Party, and Prachachat Party. It reflected the changes of sentiment of voters who look for a new hope from younger generation. On the other hand, the Democrat Party, the oldest party in Thailand, almost died from the political realms. Many of their famous and longtime elected candidates were failed. Someone said it shows dissatisfactions toward current position of this old party. So interesting.

Thai people surely know that there will be a coalition government in the future since there is no majority party. But it doesn’t come easy. Although there are obviously 2 sides of political fights, they are still reluctant to form a coalition. To make it clearer, there are 2 magic numbers to form a government. The 250 is a magic number to gain majority in the parliament and the 375 is a magic number to win a prime minister position. At this moment, the allied 6 parties can get the most of 245 MPs which nearly win majority. But it’s still impossible to form a coalition because these numbers are far from the Prime Minister votes. So ridiculous.

The general election passed by with a very close and disputable result. It may cause some political conflicts, but peaceful resolution is the most desirable. Thailand experienced polarized political that lead to turbulent and uncontrollable street protest. It finally ended with the 2014 military coup d’état. Since 1932, there were 11 successful coup d’états in Thailand, that horrible stats made Thailand the most coup d’état country in modern world history[1]. Someone said the election results will bring a weak coalition government and it may cause another coup d’état. So terrible.

I hope it will not definitely come true.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2013/12/03/thailand-has-had-more-coups-than-any-other-country-this-is-why/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ffc4f7e81637

[Photo Credit: www.radionz.co.nz]

Patipat Kittichokwattana, a PhD candidate at College of Law, Government and International Studies (COLGIS), Universiti Utara Malaysia.