Round-up of day one after Thailand’s elections

Originally published at Siam Voices on July 4, 2011

Just in case you haven’t been following our live-blog yesterday, the opposition Pheu Thai Party (PT) have won the majority of the votes paving the way for Yingluck Shinawatra to become Thailand’s first female prime minister. Bangkok Pundit has his take about the morning after, which I initially wanted to write about as well. But over the course of Monday after elections, things moved very quickly:

First off, outgoing prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has resigned from his position as leader of the Democrat Party and seeks no re-election even if the party members want him to. He’s taking responsibility from the big election defeat and makes room for a new party leader, that could be either outgoing finance minister Korn Chatikavanij or former Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayodhin.

Then over noon, Yingluck has met with several representatives of other parties over lunch for coalition talks, just already to announce a five-party governing coalition after it, with Chat Thai Pattana (as of now, unofficially 19 seats), Chat Pattana Phua Pandin (7), Palang Chon (7) and Mahachon (1), together with Pheu Thai’s 265 forming a comfortable majority of 299 seats of the total 500 in the parliament. Why 299 you might ask? “299 is a beautiful number,” is what Yingluck said…

Of course, all eyes are also looking at the military whether they will accept the outcome of the elections or if they will intervene, fearing a return of Thaksin. So far, they seem to stay put – outgoing defense minister General Prawit Wongsuwon told AFP he accepts the results and, after having talked with military leaders, will not get involved. Speaking of, the normally very outspoken commander-in-chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has essentially given himself a gag order until a new government has been formed. Also,

In the meantime, there’re still a lot of questions left from Sunday’s election, like…

Why did the exit polls get it so horribly wrong? Right after the polls closed at 3pm, the exit polls predicted a huge landslide win for Pheu Thai with about 270 to well above 300 seats. But in the late afternoon and evening these number have proven to be greatly exaggerated – the margins of error where somewhere from 13.8 per cent to a whopping 22.8 per cent. Nevertheless, many people (including this author) got very excited in the heat of the moment and already were calling it based on these numbers. We should have known better that all these Thai polls have a notorious track record of being very wrong – so we all got eggs on out faces, but the pollsters have now some explaining to do:

Turakij Bandit Poll director blamed uncontrollable factors for the high error margins. He said that although the sampling process followed standard procedures, pollsters could not get enough Democrat Party supporters to take part in the exit polls, whereas Pheu Thai supporters such as red shirts who are politically active were more willing to speak their minds. Dusit Poll director Sukhum Chaloeisub agreed, saying most Democrat supporters were not accessible, while Pheu Thai backers were more politically expressive.

Exit polls blasted for huge margins of error“, The Nation, July 4, 2011

What’s the voter turnout? Again, prediction and reality have proven to be two different things, even though not to such a large extend concerning the voter turnout. Many pundits have projected that at least 75 per cent of the electorate will go to the polls, while the Election Commission has now announced that it could be 66 per cent, which is of course much lower than expected. Throughout Sunday, voters were urged to cast their ballots sooner or later since in many parts of the country bad weather was fore-casted, but we’ll have to wait for the official results, which brings us to…

When will we know the full unofficial results? It was announced to be published on Monday noon, but it has been postponed to Tuesday, because the results from a few districts in Mae Hong Son and Ranong province are not yet in, since these are reportedly cut off due to bad weather. Let the conspiracy theories begin…!

There are still many questions yet to be answered and many new questions will arise over the next few days, e.g. who will get which cabinet post? What will the new opposition do? Who got a seat in the House and who didn’t? And were there less frauds in this elections? The next days will still be interesting!