With 8 updates: The election results so far

25 03 2019

This post began on 24 March and continued to 26 March.

With 93% of the vote counted, and the Election Commission due to report further later in the morning Thailand time, so comments are possible, recognizing that there remains considerable uncertainty.

It is unclear why the EC has not announced results last evening. That raises concerns.

Who won? In most electoral systems, the result would probably be called a hung parliament. This means that no single party has won a majority. Such a result is an outcome of the junta-designed electoral system.

Who won the votes? At this point, it is the junta’s party that has received the most votes, pipping Puea Thai. This is something of a surprise, but then Puea Thai decided to stand in only two-thirds of constituencies. The junta and its supporters will probably cheer that, for the first time since 2001, a pro-Thaksin Shinawatra party did not get the most votes.

Biggest surprises? The biggest surprise is that Future Forward did so very well, looking like it has finished third in terms of ballots cast. A second surprise was the better than expected showing by Bhum Jai Thai. The third and most deserved surprise was that the Democrat Party did so badly. Abhisit Vejjajiva has stepped down nine years too late. He’s been politically toxic since he and Suthep Thaugsuban led the murderous crackdown on red shirts, allied with those who now head the junta.

Cheating? There are now scores of accusations of cheating. Much of it involves possible individualized cheating or lapses of knowledge or poor procedure by officials. But there’s still a lot of credible evidence of old-fashioned cheating including false information, electrical failures during counting, vote buying, ghost voting and so on. On vote buying, it seems that some of this was highly strategic, seeking to turn a constituency far enough to grab a seat in either the constituency or party list. We can guess that ISOC polling probably enabled this strategic intervention.

Big picture stuff? There are several points that might be considered:

  • Puea Thai lost its partner, Thai Raksa Chart, and this seems to have been a key outcome. Thai Raksa Chart voters may have shifted to Puea Thai or to Future Forward, but having chosen to run in a limited number of constituencies this meant Puea Thai was never going to do as well as the Shinawatra planners had hoped.
  • For all of its electoral system rigging and campaign cheating, for the billions of baht spent on vote-producing “policies,” for all of the repression, and for its efforts to promote The Dictator, five years of military dictatorship failed to change the political landscape much at all. The electorate remains polarized.
  • The king probably got the result he preferred and that his two interventions presaged. However, his interventions for the junta demonstrate the palace’s failure to accept constitutional restraints on the monarchy. His open split with his elder sister is eye-opening and eye-watering. The royal family will be hurt by this. What does the king do if he finds himself with Thaksin as his brother-in-law?

Update 1: There seems to be quite a bit of “funny” stuff going on. All election counts that we have seen seem stuck at at time of about 11 pm or midnight Thailand time. All of them also include plenty of blank data and inconsistent results. Can we attribute this to the EC or to poor translation of results from the EC to multiple other sites? Meanwhile, P-Net declares that there was plenty of vote buying, saying “several parties still resorted to ‘money politics’ to bribe voters. Ladawan Tantiwitthaypitak also said there were cases of vote buying in the final leg of the election campaign, though not in an overt manner.” In fact, the junta’s electoral system encourages this. She explained that “people were mobilised to attend campaign rallies, each receiving 200 baht to turn up while a driver who took them to the rallies got 500 baht.” Ladawan related that P-Net “took pictures of many piles of 100-baht banknotes believed to have been used for vote-buying.” She said the “information has been sent to the Election Commission to take action against election law violators…”.

Update 2: From Khaosod on widespread observations of incongruities in election results:

Numbers that don’t seem to add up, inconsistent ballot counting and the Election Commission’s decision to postpone the announcement of results as pro-junta Phalang Pracharath Party was in the lead, led netizens to unleash their fury over the handling of the polls. The commission’s work had already been put in doubt for its performance leading up to Election Day.

Update 3: The EC’s press conference seemed to end in chaos as reporters repeatedly asked about problems and issues, with the EC mostly saying that complaints should be filed and they would check them. The EC now says that it will release unofficial constituency results to 95% of count at about 4 pm Bangkok time. However, they say the final results will only be released on 9 May. As a result, calculations on party list seats have to be done by others at this point (media and others keeping unofficial scores). Based on what reporters were saying and asking, confidence in the EC is rock bottom.

Update 4: The EC has now released its results at 95% of the count completed. The results for constituency seats are: Peau Thai (138), Phalang Pracharat (96), Bhum Jai Thai (39), Democrat Party (33), Future Forward (30), Chartthaipattana (7), Prachachart (6) and Action Coalition for Thailand (1).

Full election results will not be available until 9 May. With its repeated delays in making announcements, there is suspicion. The EC has handled this process so badly and combined with hundreds of reports of anomalies and problems that the election results are now widely seen as dubious and in need of investigation. The problem is that it is the EC that investigates, working under the junta.

Update 5: The “final” but unofficial results in our previous update were reported by The Nation. The Bangkok Post reports different results: Peau Thai (137), Phalang Pracharat (97) and then has a graphic with different numbers again. The media are not helping the hapless EC at all by not getting their reporting right.

A reader reckons we should have said more about the 9 May official declaration of the polls. Essentially the points made are: (i) there’s a lot of complaints and investigations to be done in that period, and these could change the outcome in significant ways and (ii) if there has been cheating, then there’s even more opportunity for this when the data are no longer public property as some of it is now.

The reader also points out that the junta particularly targeted Future Forward before the election. It is now clear why: the junta’s polling must have shown how well that party was doing. Will the junta now go after the party via its EC?

Update 6: Thaksin has an op-ed at the New York Times titled “The Election in Thailand Was Rigged.” At the same time, Puea Thai is seeking to pull together a coalition to take control of the lower house. Various reports are that Gen Prayuth and Palang Pracharath are having trouble getting their own coalition together. The word is that Prayuth rejected  Bhum Jai Thai’s proposal that Anutin Charnvirakul be PM. Thaksin and Puea Thai may be more flexible. The horse trading is back. This is what the junta has created.

Update 7: Prachatai has a brief listing of some of the reported problems associated with election day. As the article tells readers, “following the difficulties faced by overseas voters and early voters, the Election Commission … did not seem to be doing better on the election day.” It doesn’t discuss the widespread reports of vote buying.

Update 8: BBC Thai has an interview with Thaksin. The video we have seen so far is a teaser on a longer interview. In the current political climate, it is bound to be controversial, reflecting om elections and his relationship with Ubolratana and much more.



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