“Progressives — and other members of Thailand’s pro-democracy opposition parties — scored a stunning victory in the country’s elections.., dealing a major blow to military-backed incumbents. Their overwhelming success, which came as a shock to political observers of the region, indicated that Thai voters are interested in a change from the current military-led regime and sent a significant message in favor of a more representative government.
The progressive Move Forward Party, led by Pita Limjaroenrat, is projected to win 151 seats in the House — the highest of any group — while the populist opposition party Pheu Thai, aligned with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, will likely win 141 seats. Collectively, the two parties will now hold at least 292 of 500 seats in the House.”
“The military has long had a hold on Thai politics, a grip only strengthened by military coups in 2006 and 2014. That latter coup was led by current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who ushered in a new constitution that gave the military unprecedented power over government. One of those post-coup reforms threatens Move Forward’s coalition: 376 members of parliament are needed to elect a new prime minister, and the 250-person Senate was appointed by the military.
Move Forward said Monday that several parties have agreed to join its governing coalition, giving it control of 309 of parliament’s 500 seats. That leaves Pita Limjaroenrat 67 votes short of the majority needed to become prime minister. It’s unclear whether the Senate will work to cobble together a military-aligned minority government, or split its support between the two factions.”
“The members of the church, also known as the Mayflower Church, were granted refugee status by the U.N. agency after their arrival in Thailand last year. They say they faced unbearable harassment in China and are seeking asylum in the United States.”
“Human Rights Watch issued a statement on Saturday urging the Thai government not to deport the group due to “the grave dangers facing Christians back in China.”
In its annual report last year, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom said the Chinese Communist Party requires religious groups to support its rule and political objectives, including by altering their religious teachings to conform with the party’s ideology and policy. “Both registered and unregistered religious groups and individuals who run afoul of the CCP face harassment, detention, arrest, imprisonment, and other abuses,” the commission said.”
“Since Thailand’s absolute monarchy fell in 1932, the country has seen 12 military coups. It was led directly by a military government until 2019, and it continues to have a military-backed regime. Displeasure with the Thai government had been brewing since the 2019 election: Despite winning a majority of parliamentary seats, the opposition Pheu Thai Party was not allowed to form a government after many reported irregularities and electoral rule changes, leading many to call the results rigged. As a result, the incumbent prime minister, Prayuth Chan-Ocha, was allowed to remain in power.
Discontent with the Thai government has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A massive drop in tourism, which drives 10 percent of Thailand’s GDP, contributed to a 12.2 percent contraction of GDP in the second quarter of this year. The outbreak was exploited to legitimize an extensive crackdown against dissent, according to an Amnesty International report.”