BANGKOK, Thailand (Reuters) – Thailand's political heavyweights are set to engage in a round of intense deal-making Monday following an election which saw the opposition gain a significant lead over the parties allied with the military. However, there is no indication that any alliances have been formed.
The progressive Move Forward Party almost won the entire capital of Bangkok in Sunday's elections. It was closely followed by the populist Pheu Thai Party, which has been the dominant force at every Thai election for the past century.
The two opposition parties have decimated the parties that had ties with the royalist army, but it's far from certain that the opposition will be able to form the next government. This is because the parliamentary rules were drafted by military officers after the 2014 coup and are skewed towards their allies.
For a government to work, it may be necessary to reach agreements with several camps. These include rival parties, members of the junta appointed Senate, and conservative parties headed by generals. The Senate votes in the combined vote of the 750 seat bicameral Parliament to determine who will be the prime minister and form the government.
The youth were enthused by Move Forward's liberal agenda, which included promises of radical changes such as breaking up monopolies or reforming the law against insulting the monarchy.
The party gained traction in conservative strongholds, adding a new dimension to a power struggle that for years was dominated by the billionaire Shinawatras, who were the driving force of Pheu Thai. They also faced a promilitary establishment that had caused two decades worth of turmoil.
DREAMS and HOPES
Pita Limjaroenrat, 42, the leader of Move Forward said on Twitter that "change is possible" if we begin working on it now. Our dreams and hopes are straightforward and simple.
"I will be your Prime Minister, whether or not you vote for me. "I will serve you all."
Pita stated on Sunday that he is ready to form a partnership with Pheu Thailand, but Paetongtarn Shinawatra said it's too early to discuss. On Monday, both parties had separate events scheduled.
According to a Reuters calculations, the two parties won more than three times the seats of Palang Pracharat (the political vehicle of former junta) and United Thai Nation, the party of incumbent prime minister Prayuth, who is backed by the army.
Although the preliminary results may be a blow to the military and allies, parliamentary rules and influential power brokers could help them retain a position in government.
Bhumjaithai is a regional coalition party that came third in the preliminary vote with 70 seats. This puts it in an advantageous position to negotiate with the opposition parties and the military-backed ones.
Jay Harriman of BowerGroupAsia, a political risk consulting firm, said that the result was a "clear rejection of Thailand's traditional politics". However, Move Forward's plans for institutional reform could place it in a collision with the royalists and military.
He said that tensions could rise if the new government made aggressive moves to fulfill its election promises.
The Move Forward-led and Pheu Thai coalition will fall short of 376 seats needed to secure the Premiership. It will need to use its mandate to gain votes from the appointed Senate or turn to Bhumjaithai to get its support.