In Sunday’s general election the former opposition parties defeated the military-backed parties that have ruled the country since the 2014 coup, and demonstrated their readiness to form a new government.
With more than 99% of votes counted, the unofficial results from the Election Commission reported that the progressive Move Forward Party gained the largest number of lower house seats with 152. The figure includes 113 constituency MPs and 39 party-list MPs.
Following a close second is the populist Pheu Thai Party, led by Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, with 141 seats – 112 constituency MPs and 29 party-list MPs. These two parties were the 2 biggest opposition parties in the previous government, and now hold a combined total of 293 out of 500 lower house seats.
The Bhumjaithai Party, the pioneer of the campaign to decriminalize cannabis, came third with 70 seats, while Prawit Wongsuwan’s Palang Pracharath Party and Prayut Chan-o-cha’s United Thai Nation Party, both backed by the military group that seized power in the 2014 coup, came fourth and fifth with 41 and 36 seats respectively.
On 15 May 2023, Pita Limjaroenrat, the Move Forward Party’s leader and PM candidate, declared victory, confirming the party’s readiness to be the leader in forming a new government.
“I declare that the Move Forward Party is ready to be the leader in forming the next government. I am ready to be the PM of all Thais, and ready to listen to different opinions to make me a better PM. We are ready to honour and continue the past fight of all sides for democracy. We are ready to restore faith in the democratic system and in the parliamentary system,” said Pita.
Pita delivered a press conference on 15 May 2023
Pita said he invited the Pheu Thai Party and other parties - the Prachachat Party, the Thai Sang Thai Party and the Thai Liberal (Seree Ruam Thai) Party, to form a coalition. He said he is awaiting a response from the Fair Party, believing that the total number of seats will be sufficient to form a majority government and that all sides need to respect the outcome.
Pitipong Temcharoen, leader of the Fair Party, tweeted that he is pleased to join the government of the Move Forward Party and support Pita to be the next PM in order to build the country that everyone dreams of.
On the same day, the Pheu Thai Party released a statement congratulating the Move Forward Party on its victory, and accepting the Move Forward Party’s invitation to join the new government.
“Pheu Thai Party wishes to confirm that the party has no plan to compete with the Move Forward Party in order to form the new government,” according to the statement.
The coalition led by the Move Forward Party now holds a total of 310 seats. However, due to the convoluted constitutional rules, the 250 members of the military-appointed Senate are allowed to vote for the PM. In order to gather support from 376 members of both houses, i.e. half of the 750 members in total plus one, the coalition will require the backing of 66 senators if it could not gather more support from the lower house.