Shares linked to Thai billionaire politician jump on poll results

Shares linked to Thai billionaire politician jump on poll results

Shares linked to Thai billionaire politician jump on poll results

With 95 per cent of votes counted as of last night, the pro-junta party grossed 7,939,937 votes nationwide while the Shinawatra-backed Pheu Thai was second with 7,423,361 votes.

There is a small but possible chance that the Thaksin-aligned Peu Thai party will be able to nominate its choice of prime minister and form a government if they pull off a landslide victory and gain over 376 seats in the lower house.

Early polls also indicated a strong performance for the new Future Forward party led by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a charismatic young motor-parts tycoon.

As Thai voters select their next government in the wake of nearly five years of direct military rule, critics have slammed the voting system, accusing the junta of rigging results to favor pro-military political groups.

But with senate votes in hand, the junta-party Phalang Pracharat needs just 126 lower house seats to secure a parliamentary majority, even if it does not carry the popular mandate.

However, both the pro-army Palang Pracharat and the opposition Pheu Thai could seek support from Anutin Charnvirakul's Bhumjaithai Party (Proud to Be Thai) to cobble together a majority of parliamentary seats needed to form a coalition government.

Sunday's election was seen as a referendum on the military's five-year rule but was held under new rules written by the junta to ease its transformation into a civilian government.

There are still 150 "party list" seats in the lower house up for grabs, where the popular vote will matter more.

Unofficial results show Thailand's pro-military Palang Pracharat party pulling ahead of its opposition after voting closed yesterday in the country's general elections.

It's not clear whether the scale of the win by military-supporting coalition parties is sufficient to avoid that outcome again, but it also appears the prospect of stability and a desire to avoid unrest may well have been the priority for many Thai voters.

But questions over the count have billowed out, with social media ablaze with allegations of vote buying, mass invalidation of ballots and bungling by polling staff across the country.

Pheu Thai Secretary General Phumtham Wechayachai said his party believed there were voting irregularities. Some questioned the overall turnout of less than 70 percent, which was much lower than expected.

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"We want to be at the core of the government because we did the best in the election", she said.

Pheu Thai is linked to former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, whose loyalists have won every election since 2001.

"Elections in our country are not like other countries", he said.

Nevertheless, the polling agency is yet to verify all 500 members of parliament (MPs) until May 9, as provided by constitution's organic law on the election of MPs.

That is almost half a million more votes than Pheu Thai, which nonetheless had earned 137 of the 350 available constituency seats in the lower house compared to Phalang Pracharat's 97, according to preliminary figures released later Monday.

Although formal ties between Thaksin and Pheu Thai are now legally banned, he amplified the accusations of foul play in an op-ed in The New York Times on Monday.

The Bangkok Post, Thailand's main English-language newspaper, splashed "Prayut return "likely" across its front page on Monday.

"Everyone knows in Thailand, everyone global that observed the election in Thailand, knows that (there) is irregularities", he told Agence France-Presse (AFP) in an interview on Monday in Hong Kong.

In a meeting on Monday, the Elections Commission blamed "technical issues" for the sudden decision, he said.

The kingdom remains bitterly divided despite the ruling junta's pledge to rescue it from a decade-long treadmill of political instability, protests and coups.

Another royal command in February torpedoed the candidacy of the king's elder sister Princess Ubolratana for prime minister of a party linked to Thaksin.

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