Explain: Why the Thai election results are so murky


BANGKOK (Reuters) – Two days after an election aimed at restoring democratic domination and stability, Thailand has sunk into uncertainty thanks to a complex parliamentary system that critics claim the military junta has devised his rivals.

The electoral commission has been accused of incompetence and even complicity in defrauding the Sunday poll, and it may take another six weeks to publish the official results of the 500-seat lower house.

Monday's committee announced the winners of 350 seats in the House of Representatives, but the rest will not be announced until May 9th.

Until then, it will not be clear if the next government will be formed by the party that wants the leader of the junta and the former military leader Prayuth Chan-ocha to remain in office as prime minister or the "democratic front" led by the ousted party in a 2014 coup.


Partly because of complex electoral rules written by junta supporters three years ago, and partly because the Electoral Commission has yet to finalize an entire bill.

Most parties estimate their approximate share of seats from partial results and both sides have started negotiating to put together a coalition on that basis.

Prayuth's party probably has enough votes to keep it as prime minister, but it needs coalition partners in the House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament, to form a stable government.


Officially, the magic number for choosing the next prime minister is 376 votes – the majority of a combined vote between the 500-seat House of Representatives and the 250-seat Senate.

But the challenge of reaching 376 votes is different for the two camps.

Since the Senate is appointed entirely by the junta, Prayuth's party needs only about 126 seats in the House, alone or with coalition partners.

But the "democratic front" of the parties led by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra needs to win 376 seats in the 500 Chamber to choose the prime minister because he cannot count on many, or even on any Senate vote.


Only 350 seats in the House of Representatives are directly elected "polling stations" where the candidate with the most votes wins the district in a first-past-the-post system.

The winners of these posts were announced on Monday.

The Pheu Thai party of the pro-Thaksin opposition won 137 seats at home while the pro-junta party Palang Pracharat, which wants to keep Prayuth in power, won 97 seats.

The non-aligned Bhumjaithai party, which aligned itself officially with neither camp, won 39 seats. The Democratic Party, which declared that it did not take sides with Pheu Thai, won 33 seats.

A new progressive party, Future Forward, won 30 seats. It would be part of a democratic anti-junta front.

Other parties have won 14 seats.


The remaining 150 "party seats" in the lower house are assigned according to a complicated formula based on the total number of votes cast and the share of each part of the national vote.

The formula divides the total number of votes cast at national level by the 500 seats of the House of Representatives. So if 40 million people were to vote, the "value" of a Chamber seat would be 80,000 votes.

The formula effectively blocks the number of places each party can get. If one of the parties has already reached or is close to its limit in the constituency seats, it cannot get more party seats.

The exact allocation of party posts will not be known until the Electoral Commission releases unofficial results, which are scheduled for Friday. This will show the total votes cast and the share of the parts of them.

However, the final numbers will not be released until May 9, when the official results will be published. That being said, partial results up to 94 percent published on Sunday night offer clues.

Given that Pheu Thai already has 137 polling stations, it could very well have exceeded its "cap" of seats and therefore it will be unlikely to get a seat for the parties.

But Palang Pracharat has only 97 polling stations, and since he was also the leader of the national popular vote, it is likely that he will gain 15-25 more seats.

Adding the seats together would put Palang Pracharat very close to the 126 seats he needs to vote for Prayuth as prime minister, which is why many assume that the head of the junta will remain active.


Technically, both sides would need more than 250 seats, or half of the 500-member lower house, to form the next government.

However, the "democratic front" would need 376 seats in the House to get the approval of one of the candidates for the prime minister first, since he could not count on the members of the Senate appointed by the junta to endorse his candidates.

Palang Pracharat, assuming all members of the Senate vote online, will be close to 126 seats needed to convince Prayuth to stay. However, it will need coalition partners able to count on more than 250 seats in the House to form a stable coalition government.

Written by Kay Johnson. Editing by John Chalmers and Jon Boyle

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