Thailand’s political landscape has changed dramatically after the historic election on May 14, 2023. The progressive Move Forward Party (MFP) emerged as the winner with 152 seats, followed by the opposition Pheu Thai Party (PTP) with 141 seats.

Together, they have announced their intention to form a coalition government with four other parties, namely Thai Sang Thai, Prachachart, Thai Liberal and Fair.

The coalition would have a total of 309 seats in the 500-member lower house, which is enough to pass legislation but not enough to elect a prime minister. According to the constitution drafted by the military junta that seized power in 2014, the prime minister is chosen by a joint vote of the lower house and the 250-member Senate, which is entirely appointed by the junta.

The MFP leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, a 42-year-old entrepreneur and former activist, has declared himself as the prime ministerial candidate of the coalition. He said he was ready to lead a government that would respect the will of the people and work for democracy, human rights and social justice. He also called on all sides to accept the election outcome and not to obstruct the formation of a new government.

The PTP leader, Chonlanan Srikaew, a former minister and loyalist of the exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, said he agreed with Pita’s proposal and wished him luck in his efforts to become prime minister. He said the PTP had no plan to form any other government and would support the MFP as a partner in the coalition.

The coalition faces many challenges and uncertainties ahead. It is not clear if it can secure enough votes from the Senate or from other parties to elect Pita as prime minister.

It is also possible that the junta-backed UTN, which came third in the election with 36 seats, could try to form a minority government with the support of the Senate and some smaller parties. Moreover, the election results are still subject to legal challenges and potential disqualifications by the Election Commission and the Constitutional Court, both of which are seen as biased towards the junta.

The election was widely seen as a referendum on the military rule that has dominated Thailand for nearly a decade. The MFP and the PTP represent the pro-democracy camp that has been protesting against the junta and demanding reforms.

The MFP’s victory reflects a surge of support from young and urban voters who are disillusioned with the status quo and hungry for change. The PTP’s strong performance shows its enduring popularity among rural and poor voters who benefited from Thaksin’s populist policies.

The coalition’s main agenda is to amend the constitution and restore democracy in Thailand. It also aims to tackle the economic and social problems that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the junta’s mismanagement. However, it will likely have to overcome many obstacles and resistances from the entrenched interests of the military, monarchy and bureaucracy that have dominated Thai politics for decades.

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