The stunning electoral verdict in Thailand, rejecting a well-entrenched military-monarchy establishment and unambiguously favouring the revival of democracy, is a lesson for all the dictatorship regimes in the region. General Prayuth Chan-Ocha, who unseated a civilian government in 2014, and got himself appointed prime minister with the support of the Thai army, royalist parties and the monarchy, has been trounced while two of the nation’s main opposition parties, Pheu Thai and Move Forward, have won a handsome election victory.
The Move Forward party, led by rising political superstar Pita Limjaroenrat, took a stunning 151 of the 500 seats up for election. Pheu Thai, led by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s daughter Yingluck Shinawatra, bagged 141 seats. This was the first general election since the massive 2020 student-led pro-democracy protests. The traditional military-royalty establishment, which has controlled the country’s politics for decades, now faces a serious existential crisis. A significant consequence of having a democratic government in Thailand is that it may help in overcoming the differences among the ASEAN (Association of SouthEast Asian Nations) members on how to get the Myanmar military regime to implement the transition plan to democracy, which the junta had agreed to. The most immediate question, however, is whether, despite the mandate for change, the two reformist parties will be allowed to form a government. A common concern today in many countries is that ruling forces that lose elections may not accept the results, and will try to stay on in power.