Move Forward shakes the foundation, takes lead over Pheu Thai
Call it Pita fever.
The charismatic leader of the Move Forward Party, Harvard-educated Pita Limjaroenrat, 42, is emerging as one of Thailand’s most important political figures.
His party has gained support in every region of the country, and has a narrow lead over Pheu Thai, according to unofficial results from the Election Commission released late Sunday night.
With ballots from 47,929 of 95,137 polling stations nationwide, Move Forward was on track to win 151 seats in the 500 seat House of Representatives. These will be held by 115 constituency MPs and 36 from the party-list vote.
Based on the same polling data, Pheu Thai will win 146 seats:115 constituencies and 31 party-list MPs.
The two parties have been running neck and neck since the Election Commission began posting early voting results online after the polls closed.
The final results may fluctuate, but it appears clear that both Move Forward and Pheu Thai are the victors in the May 14 election.
The Bhumjaithai Party of caretaker Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul finished third with 69 seats. It will have 65 constituency MPs and four party-list MPs.
The Palang Pracharath of caretaker Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan is on track to finish a distant fourth, with 34 MPs – 32 from constituency voting and two from the party-list vote.
The United Thai Nation Party of outgoing Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha fared worse. It is on track to place fifth with 32 MPs – 19 constituency seats and 13 party-list seats.
The once-formidable Democrat Party continued to lose ground. Thailand’s oldest political party will shrink to 23 MPs – 20 constituency MPs and three party-list MPs.
The Chart Thai Pattana Party is on track to win 10 seats – nine constituency seats and one party-list seat.
Another opposition party, the Prachachart Party, is on track to send five constituency MPs and one party-list MP to the Lower House.
If the two main opposition parties – Move Forward and Pheu Thai – retain their leads, it will be nearly impossible for a coalition of smaller, less popular, political parties to snatch victory from them as they did in 2019.
Move Forward and the Pheu Thai simply need support from Prachachart and a few neutral parties to form an overwhelming majority in the Lower House.
“We've achieved our minimum objective of gaining over 100 MPs, and we're on track to reach our end goal of 160,” Pita said. ‘Our focus now is on forming a majority coalition government.”
He is already taking a leading role in shaping Thailand’s future. Shortly after the polls closed, he said he was preparing for coalition talks with Pheu Thai late Sunday night.
With millions of votes still left to be counted, he may have to wait till Monday.