Preliminary Thai Election Results Are In, But Concerns About Accuracy Persist

Members of Thailand's Palang Pracharath Party wave from a truck featuring posters of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, in Bangkok on Wednesday. The party took the lead in Thailand's first election since the army took power five years ago after a preliminary count by the election commission.
Members of Thailand's Palang Pracharath Party wave from a truck featuring posters of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, in Bangkok on Wednesday. The party took the lead in Thailand's first election since the army took power five years ago after a preliminary count by the election commission.
Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

Thailand's election commission has released the unofficial vote count from Sunday's election – the country's first since before the military seized power in 2014.

The results show Palang Pracharath, the pro-military party allied with the ruling junta, winning 8.4 million votes. The opposition party, Pheu Thai, won 7.9 million. A new opposition party called Future Forward had a strong showing with just over 6 million votes.

Thailand's general election is drawing considerable attention for two reasons: it's the first in eight years — the last five under an un-elected post-coup government — and there have been persistent concerns of voting irregularities.

NPR's Michael Sullivan reports from Thailand that official results won't come before May, and it's not yet clear which party will have the seats required to put together a government.

"An opposition coalition led by Pheu Thai says its won a majority of seats and the right to form the new government," Sullivan reports. "But the pro-military party says winning the popular vote makes it the logical choice."

The election commission released the results for 100 percent of the vote on Thursday, despite saying a day earlier that the results would be coming on Friday and would include only 95 percent of the vote, according to The Associated Press. The news service reports that other odd events transpired:

"As election officials began announcing various numbers, observers noted that they failed to match those in handouts the commission issued at the same time. A huge leap in the voter turnout percentage also did not appear to be supported by the absolute numbers that were issued. Other issues were more minor, such as the total vote count on one page not matching that on another.

"A 208-page file showing the vote by each constituency, posted by the commission on the internet, was taken down and unavailable less than two hours after it was released."

The general election determines who fills the 500 seats in Thailand's lower house: 350 are filled by the winner of each constituency, while the other 150 are apportioned according to the parties based on overall vote, using a complex formula.

But since the military took power, it has solidified its control of the government by implementing a new constitution that gives the junta the power to appoint all 250 members of the Senate — stacking the deck firmly in its favor.

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