BANGKOK, June 19 — Thailand has moved a step closer to breaking the political impasse after last month’s election, with the poll body endorsing results which saw pro-democracy parties winning enough seats to end almost a decade of military-backed rule.
The Election Commission on Monday certified the results of all 500 seats in the House of Representatives to which voting was held on May 14, Secretary-General Sawaeng Boonmee said at a televised briefing. The results cover 400 constituency seats and 100 party-list seats, he said.
Move Forward, that’s forged an eight-party coalition to form the next government led by its leader Pita Limjaroenrat, was confirmed as the winner of the most number of seats at 151, followed by Pheu Thai that bagged 141 seats.
Political uncertainty in Thailand – with the official endorsement coming in five weeks after the vote – has weighed on investors, with foreign funds turning net sellers of its stocks and bonds. They have pulled out a net US$2.1 billion from Thai bonds and stocks, sending the baht down about 2% against the US dollar since May 14.
Under Thai rules, the parliament must convene within 15 days from the certification of results to swear-in the new lawmakers and elect the house speaker.
A joint sitting of the lower house and the Senate will follow to select the prime minister. Although Pita’s coalition has the support of about 312 lawmakers, it’s still short of the 376 votes needed to ensure his win.
Pita, the 42-year-old Harvard graduate, is also facing a probe by the election body that may lead to his disqualification. Sawaeng said the agency won’t rush its investigation and won’t be swayed by the politics around the case.
The case pertains to his ownership of about 42,000 shares in a media company ITV Pcl. The election body is probing whether Pita sought to contest in the May 14 polls despite knowing he was not eligible, which would breach Section 151 of Thailand’s election law. The prime minister hopeful said the allegations are politically motivated.
“We have to work through the case until there is no doubt,” Sawaeng said of the complaint against Pita. “If it’s fast, it’s fast because of the process and not because of politics.”
The legal troubles come on top of Pita’s struggle to get members of the military-appointed Senate to his side.
Most of the senators oppose Pita’s bid for the top job as he has stuck to a campaign vow to seek amendments to Article 112 of Thailand’s criminal code, which punishes criticism of the king and other top royals by up to 15 years in prison.
The commission certified the results of all seats earlier than the July 13 deadline. While the poll body was unable to investigate all the complaints, it has one year to finish the probe and can still disqualify politicians on merit, Sawaeng said
The election body received complaints against 82 winning candidates, according to Matichon newspaper.