Thailand votes in first post-coup election

A woman votes in BangkokPicture copyright

About 50 million voters are heading to the polls in Thailand for the primary normal election because the 2014 coup.

Thailand has been buffeted by political instability for years, largely a battle between supporters of the navy and ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

After seizing energy the military promised to revive order and democracy, however has repeatedly postponed the vote.

Critics say a brand new structure the military launched will guarantee it stays influential regardless of the consequence.

Turnout is predicted to be excessive for this primary election since 2011.

Greater than seven million individuals aged between 18-26 are eligible to vote for the primary time and may very well be key to victory, so all events have been eager to courtroom their vote.

On the eve of the election, Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn issued a press release urging “peace and order” through the voting course of.

The assertion, which was featured on nationwide tv on Saturday night, urged voters to “help the nice individuals”.

The election is primarily a contest between pro-military events and allies of Mr Thaksin.

He was ousted in a coup in 2006 and lives in self-imposed exile to keep away from a conviction for abuse of energy. However he nonetheless has a major following, largely amongst rural and fewer prosperous voters.

Events loyal to Mr Thaksin have gained each election since 2001, and the BBC’s South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head says crippling this motion has been a central – if unofficial – goal of the navy.

Pheu Thai (For Thais) is the main Thaksin-loyal occasion campaigning this time.

Normal Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the coup which ousted Mr Thaksin’s sister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014, has been nominated as the one prime ministerial candidate of the newly shaped pro-military Palang Pracha Rath Occasion (PPRP).

Amongst different distinguished events are the Democrats, led by former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, and the brand new Future Ahead occasion, led by a younger telecoms billionaire, Thanatorn Juangroongruangkit.

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Media captionWhy younger voters may very well be key in Thailand’s election

On the time of the coup, the navy stated it needed to revive order and stability and forestall the road protests which have damaged out repeatedly through the years.

However the junta has been accused of taking an authoritarian strategy to energy, strictly controlling the media and arbitrarily utilizing legal guidelines like lese majeste – which prohibits any criticism of the navy – to silence opponents.

It additionally launched a structure – accredited by a referendum – which its critics say is designed to make sure it stays central in Thai politics.

Extra information from Thailand

Voters on Sunday will probably be electing 500 members of the decrease home of parliament. However below the structure, a 250-seat senate has been appointed by the navy.

The 2 homes will collectively elect a first-rate minister – a candidate solely wants half the votes plus one to win.

So the navy’s most popular candidate – Gen Prayuth – would in principle solely want 126 decrease home votes to take workplace. The governing occasion or coalition can even appoint a non-MP as prime minister.

The brand new structure additionally imposes a restrict on the variety of seats anybody occasion can take, whatever the variety of votes gained, and any future authorities is constitutionally certain to observe the navy’s 20-year plan for Thailand.

Voting will happen at greater than 93,000 polling stations from 08:00 native time (01:00 GMT) till 17:00.

Preliminary unofficial outcomes will emerge inside hours, however correspondents say it should take a while for the longer term route of Thailand to develop into clear, as events negotiate offers and coalitions.

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