Thailand's main anti-junta Pheu Thai party says it has joined forces with six smaller parties to claim a majority of seats in the lower house of parliament and form the next government.
Sudarat Keyuraphan, Pheu Thai's prime ministerial candidate, announced the coalition Wednesday in Bangkok, claiming it had won at least 255 seats in the 500-seat chamber that were up for grabs in Sunday's general election. As of Monday, initial results from the vote counting showed Pheu Thai winning 137 seats versus 97 seats for the military-backed Phalang Pracharat party.
But even if Pheu Thai holds on to its parliamentary majority after the final results become official, they may not be able to form a government under the country's new constitution, which was drafted by the ruling junta. Under the new charter, the unelected 250-member Senate, whose members are all appointed by the junta, will join the 500 elected members of the lower house to vote for the next prime minister.
Phalang Pracharat has also claimed a mandate to form a new government, as the results showed it with a wide lead in the popular vote over Pheu Thai.
Thailand's election commission has delayed announcing a full preliminary vote count until Friday, amid growing allegations of vote rigging and irregularities in the vote counting.
The Asian Network for Free Elections issued a statement Tuesday saying the results were "deeply flawed," and that the commission's efforts have damaged “the perceived integrity” of the general election.
The commission blames the confusing and contradictory results on “human error.”
The Phalang Pracharat is led by army chief Prayut Chan-ocha, who has led the junta since ousting then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014, while the Pheu Thai is affiliated with Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin, a telecommunications billionaire who was overthrown in a coup in 2006. Parties linked to Thaksin have won every general election 2001. Both Thaksin and Yingluck have both been living abroad in exile since the overthrow of their respective governments.
The final results are not expected to be announced until May 9.