tirsdag 16. mai 2023

Thailand’s opposition won a landslide in elections. But will the military elite let them rule?

Thai voters delivered a powerful message to the country’s military-backed government on Sunday: you do not have the will of the people to rule. The progressive Move Forward Party, which gained a huge following among young Thais for its reformist platform, won the most seats and the largest share of the popular vote. Pheu Thai, the main opposition party that has been a populist force in Thailand for 20 years, came second.

Together they delivered a crushing blow to the conservative, military-backed establishment that has ruled on and off for decades, often by turfing out popularly elected governments in coups. “This is an unmistakable frontal rebuke, a rejection of Thailand’s military authoritarian past. It’s a rejection of military dominance in politics,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist from Chulalongkorn University.

Over the last two decades, each time Thais have been allowed to vote, they have done so overwhelmingly in support of the military’s political opponents. Sunday’s vote – which saw a record turnout – was a continuation of that tradition. But despite winning a landslide, it is far from certain who will be the next leader.