Thailands pro-army party has taken the lead in Thailand’s first democratic election since a 2014 military coup.
Preliminary election results show the party of junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha leading with 7.5 million votes, as former prime minister turned Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva stepped down.
Close behind Prayuth’s Palang Pracharat party with 7 million votes is the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, which has won every election since 2001.
A new party, Future Forward, which was anti-junta and became popular with young voters, claimed nearly 5.2 million votes. But voters deserted the Democrat Party, the country’s oldest political party, according to partial results released by the Election Commission.
Democratic Party leader Abhisit stepped down due to the poor showing.
“I must take responsibility for this. I resign from my leadership of the Democrat Party,” said the former prime minister, who held that position from 2008 to 2011.
Election Commission chairman Ittiporn Boonprakong said the unofficial results of Sunday’s poll would be announced 10am local time on Monday rather than 8.30pm on Sunday, as had been expected.
Ittiporn did not give a reason for the delay, but the Election Commission said nearly six per cent of votes were disqualified
Pheu Thai’s secretary general, Phumtham Wechayachai, said the party was waiting for official results but believed there were irregularities. The party wants to inspect disqualified and spoiled ballots, he said.
“Even the reported numbers from the Election Commission and each media outlet are different. We have our own number too. The Election Commission report even paused for a while. It will be clearer once the official result is announced,” Mr Phumtham said.
It was the country’s first general election since 2011, and comes after a 2014 military coup.
Thailand has been under direct military rule since then-army chief Prayuth overthrew an elected government linked to exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who himself was thrown out by the army in 2006.