General elections in Thailand were held successfully on 3 July 2011. Voter turnout was very high at around 74 per cent. Unofficial results show the Pheu Thai Party (PTP) winning 265 seats, a majority in the 500-seat House of Representatives, while the Democrat Party (DP), the current ruling party, came in second at 159 seats. Official preliminary election results are due to be announced by the Election Commission on 5 July pending the delivery of results from Tak and Mae Hong Son provinces which has been delayed due to severe weather conditions.
In the late evening of 3 July after it became clear that Pheu Thai would be the winning party, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the DP, congratulated Pheu Thai for its victory and wished Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra every success as the first female prime minister of Thailand. He also remarked that the outcome of the ballots was proof that Thai democracy is advancing forward and affirmed that the Democrats were ready to be in the opposition. Later that evening, Ms. Shinawatra gave an address to express her appreciation for her party’s supporters. She also thanked Mr. Vejjajiva and the various political parties for making the election atmosphere constructive and orderly. She gave her assurances that Pheu Thai would implement its policies as promised and was ready to work with other political parties in a coalition government.
Subsequently, on 4 July, Mr. Vejjajiva announced his resignation as leader of the DP to accept responsibility for the performance of his party in the elections. A new party leader would be selected within 90 days pending consultations among party members. Meanwhile, Ms. Shinawatra announced on the same day the formation of a five-party coalition comprising a total of 299 members of parliament from Pheu Thai, Chat Thai Pattana, Chat Pattana Puea Pandin, Phalang Chon and Mahachon. She said the new government would press ahead with reconciliation as its first priority while the Truth for Reconciliation Commission chaired by Dr. Kanit Na Nakorn would continue its work. She also affirmed that Pheu Thai would not grant amnesty for any single person.
The announcement of the official election results by the Election Commission has to be made within seven working days from the election date for those election districts where there have been no complaints of poll fraud. Should there be complaints of poll fraud, the Election Commission has the authority to conduct inquiries for those districts which have to be completed within 30 days from the election date.
According to the Thai Constitution, the new House of Representatives has to convene its inaugural meeting within 30 days after the election. The House will then have to elect the Prime Minister within 30 days after its first session. The Prime Minister will subsequently form the Cabinet. The new government should therefore assume office by the end of August.