BANGKOK – The pro-military Phalang Pracharat Party won the highest number of votes with 8.4 million, in the Thai general elections held over the weekend, according to preliminary data released by the Election Commission on Thursday.
With the total votes counted, the Thaksin Shinawatra-backed Puea Thai party came in second with 7.9 million votes, while the newly-formed political party Anakot Mai was placed third with 6.2 million votes.
Some 38.2 million Thais – around 74.69 percent of those eligible – voted in the elections on Sunday, the first polls to be held since the May 2014 military coup.
Out of 350 seats in the preliminary tally, the anti-junta Puea Thai led with 137, followed by the pro-military Phalang Pracharat Party (97), the Bhumjaithai Party (39), the Democrat Party (33) and the emerging Anakot Mai (“Future Forward”) party (30).
These seats are distributed according to constituencies, while another 150 seats have yet to be announced as they will be decided based on a complex party-list system.
According to the data announced on Thursday, more than 2.2 million votes – or 5 percent of the ballots – were spoiled, among which were some 1,500 votes cast by Thai citizens in New Zealand which were not collected on time by the electoral body.
The data published by the authorities reflects a 9 percent increase in the voter participation with respect to data published on the day of voting.
The Election Commission said that the data released will not be official until May 9 and it still has to investigate 150 complaints, including allegations of vote buying in some districts.
However, on Wednesday, a coalition of seven parties led by Puea Thai and Anakot Mai announced its intention of forming government and said that together they have a majority, with a total of 255 members in the lower house.
Despite having a majority in the parliament, the coalition will find it complicated to choose the next prime minister with a voting system in which 250 members of the senate will also participate, who will be handpicked by the military junta headed by Prime Minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha.