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.
HOW IS THE PRIME MINISTER SELECTED?
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 115 seats in the election, then worked with other parties to secure a majority in the Lower House to lead the government.