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Thailand goes to the polls with 500 seats in Lower House being contested

Once the seats in the House of Representatives are decided by Thai voters, the race for the premiership begins.

Thailand goes to the polls with 500 seats in Lower House being contested

A voter at a polling station in Vadhana district, Bangkok during the Thai general election on May 14, 2023. (Photo: CNA/Jack Board)

BANGKOK: A general election kicked off on Sunday (May 14) in Thailand, where a new set of parliamentarians in the House of Representatives will be elected to form the next government.

About 52 million people are eligible to cast their votes nationwide before the polls close at 5pm.

More than 2 million people had already turned up for early voting on May 7. 

A total of 500 members of the House of Representatives will be elected on Sunday. 

Four hundred of them will be chosen in constituency elections. The other 100 will be elected from the national party lists – a type of proportional representation where multiple candidates are elected from a list prepared by their respective parties, based on the total votes the party receives.

In the constituency elections, 400 seats are up for grabs and 4,710 candidates are competing for them. On the national party lists, there are nearly 1,900 parliamentary candidates from 67 parties.

Each voter will receive two ballots – one for the constituency and the other for the party list.

A polling station in Bangkok during the Thai general election on May 14, 2023. (Photo: CNA/Jack Board)


In the capital Bangkok, voters began trickling in after the polls opened at 8am. Among them was first-time voter Natchanon Prasansri, who is about to start university.

"This election is very important because it is our future and our right. We have to choose people we can trust and people we like because many parties have a lot of policies. It will be the deciding factor of the country's direction," the 18-year-old said outside a polling station in Vadhana district.

Natchanon said the next government needs to urgently address various issues, including air pollution and public transport, which he has to rely on to go to work. "I rarely go out of my house because of the pollution," he told CNA. 

"There aren’t enough buses and sometimes you have to wait for hours."

Change is what many Thais wish to see after the election on Sunday. Online business operator Nattawoot Chulikit, 45, believes the people of Thailand should be able to voice their opinions more freely.

"I’m hoping to see change in a lot of things. The most urgent issues that I want to see addressed are the right to freedom of expression, poverty and business opportunities," he said.

For 79-year-old Yupin Macleod, it is crucial to vote for people who have a bright vision for the country.

"We want good people to manage the country. There are not so many good people for us to choose from. We want someone new with a good vision. If we get a new generation without good vision, then it’s dangerous," she said.

There are 6,327 polling units in the Thai capital. According to Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt, all the ballot boxes reached their venues by 6.05am on Sunday and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration was ready to facilitate the voting process.

"Today is a good opportunity for us to exercise our rights and help make sure the election is transparent. Let's come out to vote," he said, before casting his ballots.

Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt at a polling station in Bangkok during the Thai general election on May 14, 2023. (Photo: CNA/Jack Board)

In the southern province of Songkhla, voters also turned up early to exercise their rights. At a polling station in Hat Yai district, Prani Sumritpon and her husband arrived at 6.45am. 

The 81-year-old farmer told CNA she has voted at every election and that she wishes to see many improvements after this election.

“I want peace to be restored, good roads, and a lower cost of living because I have no salary, and also no money,” said Prani.

Her husband Khajit Premjaichon, 71, said: "I hope the economy will be better and the prices of goods won't be so expensive like they are at the moment."

“I want a government that is not corrupt because the country will then be better," he added.

Khajit Premjaichon and Prani Sumritpon, at a polling station in Hat Yai, Thailand on May 14, 2023. (Photo: CNA/Danang Wisanggeni)

For first-time voters, the election on Sunday is an exciting moment for them to take part in shaping Thailand's future. Twenty-one-year-old Afsamawatee Laengaenae from Songkhla said she wants the country to have a new prime minister.

“I want a prime minister who has good leadership, not corrupt and dares to amend some laws,” the university student told CNA.

At the same polling station, Thanittha See-Hoo also cast her vote for the first time.

“I want my voice to be heard. I want a democratic government, a new government that can improve the public transport, quality of life and educational system for the youths," the 20-year-old said.

A man casts his ballot at a polling station at Hat Yai, Thailand, during the Thai general eleciton on May 14 2023. (Photo: CNA/Danang Wisanggeni)


Once the 500 seats in the House of Representatives are decided, the race for the premiership begins. This time, 62 contenders from 43 parties are running for the country’s top office.

Under the current constitution, each political party can submit up to three candidates for the premiership. However, only parties with at least 25 elected Members of Parliament (MPs) can nominate a prime minister.

Five parties met the requirement in the previous election in 2019. They were Pheu Thai, Palang Pracharat, Democrat, Bhumjaithai and Future Forward, which was disbanded a year later.

The nomination must then be endorsed by at least 50 elected MPs – or no less than one-tenth of the Lower House’ total members – before a vote to select the prime minister can take place in a joint sitting. 

This process involves both the 250-member Senate and the House of Representatives. 

A prospective prime minister must be approved by more than half of the combined assembly. This means a candidate who can garner at least 376 votes – either from both Houses or only from the Lower House's 500 members – will win the premiership.

At the last election in 2019, the Pheu Thai Party won the most number of seats in the Lower House with 136 MPs but it was unable to garner enough support to form a coalition to govern the country. 

Palang Pracharat, the military-linked party that was then led by Prayut Chan-o-cha and which had won 116 seats in the election, then worked with other parties to secure a majority in the Lower House to lead the government. 


According to the final poll on the election by The National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA), the most popular prime ministerial candidate was Pita Limjaroenrat.

The 42-year-old is the leader and sole prime ministerial candidate of the Move Forward Party. His popularity grew quickly over the past few months. 

In NIDA’s poll published on May 3, 35.44 per cent of 2,500 respondents across Thailand supported him as Thailand’s next prime minister. 

In second place with 29.20 per cent was Paetongtarn Shinawatra, 36, from the Pheu Thai Party. She is the youngest daughter of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted from power in a military coup in 2006. 

Her aunt, Yingluck Shinawatra, was also a former prime minister of Thailand. Her democratically elected government was toppled by a military coup in 2014 led by then-army chief Prayut Chan-o-cha. 

The third spot went to incumbent Prime Minister Prayut with 14.84 per cent. The 69-year-old retired general is running under the banner of a new party called the United Thai Nation, hoping to stay on in power after more than eight years in the job.

Srettha Thavisin came in fourth with 6.76 per cent. The 60-year-old is a property tycoon and another prime ministerial candidate from the Pheu Thai Party.

The fifth place was undecided. Three per cent of the respondents had not made up their minds about who should be the next prime minister.

Based on the same poll, the most popular parties  – both in terms of constituency candidates and party lists – were Pheu Thai, Move Forward, United Thai Nation, Democrat and Bhumjaithai, respectively.


Unofficial results of the election on Sunday should become available from 6.30pm onwards, according to the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT). 

Votes will be counted at polling stations before the unofficial results are submitted to the ECT’s database.

The public can monitor vote counting at polling stations. They can also see the unofficial results as they trickle in from across the country on various news outlets.

The ECT aims to announce the unofficial results from all the constituencies by 11pm on Sunday.

Source: CNA/pp(as)


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