Official results in Thailand's first general election since the military coup of 2014have been delayed until Friday, the country's election commission announced on Monday, after preliminary results put the pro-junta party in the lead.
The vote pitted a royalist junta headed by former general Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha against a "democratic front" led by the political party he ousted.
Electoral Commission figures show:
- The pro-military Palang Pracharat party won 7.6 million votes, although it is unclear if it will be enough for an absolute majority.
- The main opposition party, Pheu Thai, won 7.2 million votes.
- Future Forward, a popular party among young voters, won nearly 5.3 million votes.
- The winners of 350 seats of Thailand's 500-seat House of Representatives are due to be announced on Monday.
- The full results have been delayed and will be announced on Friday.
- The electoral body put voter turnout at over 65 percent — a figure critics said was too low and seemed to contradict pre-election polls and the long lines outside of polling stations.
Read more: A moment of shock for Thailand's military
Democracy or chaos?
The Pheu Thai party claimed on Monday that it won the most seats and will try to form a government with other anti-Junta parties.
Pheu Thai Secretary General Phumtham Wechayachai said his party believed there were voting irregularities. "It will be clearer once the official result is announced," he said.
A spokesman for the pro-military Palang Pracharat said the party expects to win the 251 seats needed for an absolute majority and that it will also try to form a government.
The vote was foreshadowed by a cryptic last-minute warning from King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who urged voters to support "good" leaders to prevent "chaos."
"I am old enough to choose myself" began trending on social media late Saturday in defiance of the king's statement.
What's the election about? Thai voters are electing lawmakers to the 500-seat House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament, which along with the upper chamber, the Senate — appointed entirely by the ruling junta — will select the next government.
Critics slam voting system: Critics say the system, which was revised by the military junta, favors pro-military parties. They claim it is rigged to prevent Pheu Thai, which is linked to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, from returning to power.
Chief of oldest party steps down: The Democrat Party came in fifth place, according to preliminary results. Its leader, former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, resigned in response.
Millions of new voters: More than 7 million younger voters were able to cast their ballot for the first time, with the last election having taken place in 2011.
rs, kw,rc/amp (dpa, Reuters)