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Thailand elections: Polls open with Thaksin’s daughter as frontrunner

  • By Jonathan Head
  • South East Asia correspondent

Voting gets underway at an outdoor polling station in Bangkok

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Voting will get underway at an outside polling station in Bangkok

Voting has begun in Thailand’s common election, the place the daughter of ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is the frontrunner.

The election is being described as a turning level for a rustic that has skilled a dozen army coups in its latest historical past.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the military common who led the final coup in 2014, is in search of one other time period.

But, he’s going through a powerful problem from two anti-military events.

Voting on Sunday started at 8:00 am (01:00 GMT) on the 95,000 polling station throughout the nation.

Around 50 million individuals will forged their ballots to elect 500 members of the decrease home of parliament – and round two million individuals have voted early.

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Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O-Cha forged his vote in Bangkok early on Sunday

Leading the race is Pheu Thai (For Thais), led by Mr Thaksin’s daughter, Paetongtarn Shinawatra.

The 36-year-old is harnessing her father’s broad patronage community whereas sticking to the populist message that has resonated with rural, low-income areas of the nation.

Mr Thaksin, a telecommunications billionaire, is cherished by many decrease earnings Thais however is deeply unpopular with the royalist elite. He was ousted in a army coup in 2006, when his opponents accused him of corruption. He has denied the allegations and has since been residing in exile since 2008 in London and Dubai.

“I think after eight years the people want better politics, better solutions for the country than just coup d’etats,” Ms Paetongtarn informed the BBC in a latest interview.

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Pheu Thai’s prime ministerial candidate Paetongtarn Shinawatra is the daughter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

Move Forward, led by Pita Limjaroenrat, a 42-year-old former tech government, has additionally been rising quick in opinion polls. Its younger, progressive and impressive candidates have been campaigning on a easy however highly effective message: Thailand wants to vary.

“And the change is really not about having another coup. Because that’s a change backwards. It’s about reforming the military, the monarchy, for a democratic future, with better economic performance,” says Thitinan Pongsudhirak, from the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University.

Meanwhile, Mr Prayuth, 69, is lagging in opinion polls. He seized energy from the federal government of Mr Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, in 2014, following months of turmoil.

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Move Forward Party chief and prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat poses for photograph with supporters after casting his poll

Thailand held an election in 2019, however the outcomes confirmed no clear celebration had gained a majority.

Weeks later, a pro-military celebration shaped the federal government and named Mr Prayuth as its PM candidate in a course of that the opposition stated was unfair.

The following 12 months a controversial court docket ruling dissolved Future Forward, the earlier iteration of Move Forward, which had carried out strongly within the election due to the passionate assist of youthful voters.

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Thailand’s conservative, military-backed authorities is predicted to face a powerful problem from the pro-democracy opposition

That sparked off mass protests lasting 6 months which known as for reform of the army and the monarchy.

With almost 70 events contesting this election, and several other massive ones, it’s unlikely anyone celebration will get an outright majority of the seats within the decrease home.

But even when one celebration doesn’t win a majority, or has a majority coalition in place, the political system bequeathed by the military-drafted 2017 structure, and a variety of different extra-electoral authorities, can forestall it from taking workplace.

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Two males dressed as Spiderman offered some leisure whereas individuals forged their vote

The structure, written whereas Thailand was underneath army rule, created a 250-seat appointed senate, which will get to vote on the selection of the following PM and authorities.

As the senators have been all appointed by the coup leaders they’ve all the time voted in favour of the present, military-aligned authorities, and by no means in favour of the opposition.

So technically any celebration with out the senate’s backing would wish a super-majority of 376 out of the 500 seats, an unobtainable goal.

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