ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Thailand counts votes in key election with opposition favored to win

Paetongtarn Shinawatra, one of the prime minister candidates from Pheu Thai Party, casts her vote at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, May 14, 2023 (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Paetongtarn Shinawatra, one of the prime minister candidates from Pheu Thai Party, casts her vote at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, May 14, 2023 (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Officials in Thailand begin counting votes in a general election touted as a pivotal chance for change nine years after incumbent Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha first came to power in a 2014 coup. He is now running against the daughter of the politician who is the military’s top nemesis.

The polls closed at 5 p.m. and some results are expected in early evening, with a fuller picture coming later Sunday night. Thai elections use paper ballots that are counted publicly at polling stations.

The opposition Pheu Thai Party, headed by Paetongtarn Shinawatra, is widely predicted to win at least a healthy plurality of the seats in the 500-member lower House. After casting her ballot, Paetongtarn said every vote is important for effecting change in Thailand and that she has high hopes for the final result.

But who heads the next government won’t be decided by Sunday’s vote alone. The prime minister will be selected in July in a joint session of the House and the 250-seat Senate. The winner must secure at least 376 votes and no party is likely to do that on its own.

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