Thailand’s reformist party Move Forward has announced that it has secured an alliance with seven other parties that give them 313 of the 500 seats in the lower house of parliament and expressed confidence that they will be able to form a coalition government despite the opposition from the military-backed parties.
Move Forward, led by Pita Limjaroenrat, won 152 seats in Sunday’s general election, followed by Pheu Thai with 141 seats. The two parties have agreed on broad policy issues, such as reforming the lese majeste law that criminalizes criticism of the monarchy and ending the military’s influence over politics.
The election was seen as a referendum on the military-backed rule that has dominated Thailand since the 2014 coup led by Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who became prime minister and later formed a civilian government with the support of the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) and other allies. The PPRP and its partners won only 137 seats in the lower house, according to the preliminary results.
However, the reformists still face a major hurdle in forming a new government, as they need a super-majority of 376 votes in parliament to elect a prime minister. The parliament consists of 500 elected members in the lower house and 250 appointed members in the Senate, who were all selected by the military junta before the election. The Senate is expected to vote along with the PPRP and its allies, which could block the reformists’ bid for power.
Pita said on Thursday that he hoped some senators would respect the will of the people and support his coalition, which he said represented a democratic inevitability. He also warned that any attempt by the military or the judiciary to interfere with the election results or the government formation process would trigger a public backlash.
The Election Commission (EC) has said it will announce the official results of the election within 60 days of election day, and that it will investigate any complaints or irregularities. The EC has faced criticism for its handling of the election, which was marred by delays, errors and allegations of fraud.
The reformists have vowed to push for constitutional amendments to reduce the power of the Senate and the military, and to restore democracy and human rights in Thailand. They have also promised to tackle the economic and social challenges facing the country, such as poverty, inequality, corruption and environmental degradation.
The election was Thailand’s first since 2011, and marked a historic moment for the country’s young voters, who turned out in large numbers to support Move Forward and its progressive agenda. The party had emerged from the pro-democracy protests that swept Thailand last year, demanding reforms to the monarchy and an end to military rule.