World in View: Thailand’s election

June 16, 2023

From the May-June 2023 issue of News & Letters

by Eugene Walker

I really hope for change, we have lived with the same old thing for the past eight years.

—Saisunee Chawasirikunthon, a telecommunications worker

In Thailand’s May 13 election, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the general who seized power in a 2014 coup, was unseated. But will the military allow an independent civilian government to be formed? Over the last century, the Thai military has carried out a dozen coups.

The progressive Move Forward Party, which has called for amending the law that criminalizes public criticism of the monarchy, ending compulsory military conscription, legalizing same-sex marriage and a $13 daily minimum wage, won the most seats in the House of Representatives.

However, Thai generals rewrote the Constitution in 2017 so a Senate stacked with military allies could jointly determine the results with the House of Representatives. The Move Forward Party or any other party would need well over 300 votes in the 500-seat House of Representatives to overcome the military-controlled 250-seat Senate’s votes. It may be weeks or longer before there is any resolution.

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