Pro-Thaksin opposition wins Thai election
Thailand’s opposition Puea Thai Party has won an overall majority in the country’s general election, exit polls showed as voting ended. The party, led by ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister, Yingluck, had won 260 seats out of 500 with 92 per cent of votes counted, according to the Election Commission.
Outgoing prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva conceded defeat late Sunday with results showing his Democrats winning 163 seats.
Opposition supporters erupted into cheers at their party headquarters in Bangkok as television stations announced the news. Yingluck later said that she was talking to form a coalition government and already discussed with the smaller Chart Thai Pattana.
The result means the end of Abhisit’s government, which took power after a court ruling deposed another Thaksin supporter.
Thaksin himself was toppled by the army in 2006 following demonstrations by Yellow Shirts hostile to his government. He retained support among the poor, especially in rural areas, thanks to his introduction of cheap healthcare and microcredit schemes.
His most fierce opponents, from the urban upper and middle classes, accuse him of corruption and authoritarianism and say he was a threat to the monarchy.
Yingluck Shinawatra is now set to become Thailand's first-ever female prime minister. She is a 44-year-old entrepreneur and political novice described by Thaksin as his "clone".
Ahead of the poll, army chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha promised not to interfere. But he is known to be an anti-Thaksin monarchist and called on voters to support the “right people” shortly before the vote.
The Democrats changed electoral law in the months before the vote, raising the number of MPs to 500, 375 elected by constituencies and 125 by proportional representation from party lists. The changes were favoured their party, which was also helped by the ban on about 100 of Peua Thai’s leading members instituted after the 2006 coup.
The official result must be announced within seven working days of the vote and the new parliament must meet before 2 August, electing a prime minister within a further 30 days.