BANGKOK • Thailand's chaotic election has taken another turn, with the Election Commission announcing that the pro-army party, which is seeking to keep the current junta leader in power, has won the popular vote, with 100 per cent of ballots counted.
The announcement yesterday did not make clear the overall winner of Sunday's general election, the first since a 2014 military coup.
Both the pro-army Palang Pracharath and an anti-junta "democratic front" have claimed a mandate to form the next government, but it is unclear if either side will be able to gather enough votes in Parliament to form a workable government.
Palang Pracharath won the popular vote with 8.4 million ballots, the Election Commission said.
The main opposition Pheu Thai Party, whose elected government was toppled in the coup, received 7.9 million votes.
"These numbers are fully-counted results officially reported by each constituency," said Mr Krit Urwongse, deputy secretary-general of the Election Commission.
The results represented 100 per cent of the ballots counted, but would remain unofficial until final results are announced on May 9.
The numbers were for the nationwide popular vote. Breakdowns of the parties' shares of the vote in each of the 350 constituencies were also released.
The commission has not announced the full number of seats for each party in the 500-seat House of Representatives.
Results for the Lower House's 350 directly elected "constituent seats" showed Pheu Thai with 137 and Palang Pracharath with 97.
The remaining 150 House of Representatives seats are allocated according to a complex formula involving the total number of votes for each party.
The vote numbers released yesterday should allow a clearer view of how the 150 party seats will be divided. The commission itself has said it would not announce the party seats until May 9, when the official results are finalised.
On Wednesday, the Pheu Thai-led "democratic front" of seven parties claimed to have a combined 255 seats based on partial results, saying the majority in the House of Representatives gave it the right to try to form a government.
Pheu Thai is made up of loyalists of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and has lived in self-exile since 2008 to avoid a graft conviction that he said was politically motivated.
A government that had been led by his sister, Yingluck, was overthrown in the 2014 coup.
Palang Pracharath, which had campaigned on keeping coup leader and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in office, said it had the popular mandate because it had won the most votes nationwide.
It said it was in no hurry to form a coalition until the official results are released.
Meanwhile, a photo of Mr Prayut receiving an intravenous saline infusion while working at Government House posted on Facebook by a staff member yesterday has gone viral, with at least 2,000 shares in eight hours.
A government spokesman said Mr Prayut was tired and sought the saline drip from a doctor to avoid falling ill, Bangkok Post reported.