By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
BANGKOK (Worthy News) – After nearly a decade of military rule, Thailand’s opposition secured a stunning election victory Sunday after trouncing parties allied with the army.
The outcome meant a setback for the army-backed incumbent Prayuth Chan-ocha who served as prime minister since he seized power in a military coup in 2014.
Preparations were underway Sunday to form a new government without the army’s involvement as the liberal Move Forward party and the populist Pheu Thai Party were leading with nearly all votes counted.
But election observers cautioned it was far from certain that the opposition would succeed in ousting the military-backed government due to parliamentary rules written in its favor.
To rule, the opposition parties must strike deals with multiple camps, including members of a junta-appointed Senate. That has sided with military parties and get to vote on who becomes prime minister and forms the next administration.
Yet ousting the military could mean a return to democratic rule has improved relations with the West, analysts say, with broader implications for the Southeast Asian region.
Also at stake is the legitimacy of traditional institutions such as the military and the monarchy, revered by older citizens but increasingly challenged by the younger generation, analysts say.
By Sunday night, Move Forward, seen as a progressive, youth-oriented party that has sought to curb the powers of the Thai monarchy, had won the most votes.
Analysts said it made a surprising surge past Pheu Thai, the party of exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, which was widely expected to dominate.
Move Forward was also set to win the most seats in the House of Representatives, a 500-member body, coming out ahead even in Pheu Thai strongholds in this predominantly Buddhist nation of 65 million people.
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