Tuesday, April 23, 2019
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In Thailand, the junta claims a democratic victory

The provisional results of the March 24 legislative elections, the first since the 2014 coup, place the pro-junta party in opposition to former opposition prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's exile. A real surprise.

Surprise in Thailand. The partial results (on 94% of the ballots) of the legislative elections which held Sunday, March 24 give the party Phalang Pracharat, pro-junta, in front of the party Pheu Thai, formation of opposition since the coup d'état of the army in 2014, yet given as a big favorite of the poll.

More than 7.6 million Thai voters voted for the junta party and 7.1 million for Pheu Thai, overseen by the ex-prime minister in exile. With nearly 5.3 million votes, the Anakot Mai party ("New Future") comes third.

Parties competing in an unprecedented elbow-to-elbow

The desire for stability of Thais could play a role in the rise to power and success, if it is confirmed, the party of the junta. As pointed Sophie Boisseau du Rocher, specialist of Asia at the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri), the fact that the King of Thailand, Rama X, "Prompted his subjects to" make the right choice to avoid chaos "probably weighed on the undecided," motivating them to turn to the Phalang party.

The race nevertheless very indecisive between the two main parties highlights moreover, according to Charuwan Lowira-Lulin, anthropologist and researcher at the Ifri Asian Center, "Extinction" of the former big Democratic Party (conservatives). "The traditional fringe of the democrats has chosen to move towards the party of the junta for security", influenced by the King's speech, she notes.

In addition, adds the anthropologist, the rise of the progressive party "New Future", very popular among young voters, shows that the latter "No longer want the junta, which expresses a clear generational break. Only young people dare to oppose the military. For Sophie Boisseau du Rocher, "What appears implicitly is the misunderstanding of the elites in the face of this demand for change".

In Thailand, the junta is building a tailor-made election

Corruption and slow changes

Will these surprise results give rise to disputes? The Electoral Commission, appointed by the junta, avoids any eventuality by accusing the opposition of purchases of votes and partiality. Nearly two million ballots were invalidated. For Charuwan Lowira-Lulinn, "All elections are fraudulent, one way or another, from one side or another". "The junta, with the constitution of 2016, has put in place mechanisms that allow it to control political and economic developments", concludes Sophie Boisseau du Rocher.

Antoine Pacquier



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