Thailand elections: Voting underway; young voters call for change in military-dominated kingdom
Amid tight security, voting started for Thailand’s general election on Sunday as Opposition parties are tipped to beat the government of army-backed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha after almost a decade in power.
Polling started at 8:00 am (0100 GMT) after a campaign that played out as a clash between a young generation yearning for change and the traditionalist, royalist establishment, AFP reported.
The main opposition Pheu Thai party, fronted by the daughter of billionaire former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, was ahead in final opinion polls.
But in a kingdom where victory at the ballot box has often been trumped by coups and court orders, there are fears the military could seek to cling on, raising the prospect of fresh instability.
At Pheu Thai’s closing rally on Friday, main candidate Paetongtarn Shinawatra told a rapturous 10,000-strong crowd that Sunday would be a “historic day where Thailand will change from junta rule to democratic rule”.
Voting began at 8:00 am (0100 GMT) at the 95,000 polling stations scattered from the lush-forested mountains of the north to the idyllic sands of the southern beaches.
A turnout of 90 percent in last Sunday’s early round of voting points to an electorate looking for change, but the opposition faces an uphill battle to secure power, thanks to the junta-scripted 2017 constitution.
The new premier will be chosen jointly by the 500 elected MPs and 250 senate members appointed by Prayut’s junta — stacking the deck in the army’s favour.
In the controversial last election in 2019, Prayut rode senate support to become prime minister at the head of a complex multi-party coalition.
(With inputs from AFP)
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