Updated at 1:42 p.m. ET on 2019-03-24
A pro-junta party and the party whose government was ousted in a military coup five years ago were running neck and neck in Thailand’s election, local media reported late Sunday.
With 95 percent of votes tallied, the Palang Pracharat Party (PPP) and the Pheu Thai Party each won 140 seats in the 500-member lower house of parliament, according to the Bangkok Post.
Earlier in the evening, Election Commission (EC) chairman Ittiporn Boonprakong announced partial raw results by province but declined to give a tally of parliament seats thus far, drawing howls of protests from reporters on site.
“Anything else, you will hear from me and the secretary general tomorrow,” Ittiporn said.
The Bangkok Post tally combined directly elected seats and projected party list seats, which are assigned according to a complicated formula devised by the junta. The EC had earlier announced it would not calculate the 150 party list seats until results are certified in May.
Pheu Thai directly won 125 seats and netted 15 party list seats, according to the Post. PPP took 97 constituency seats and 43 party list seats, it said.
Those results could pave the way for incumbent Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-Cha to remain in office, if all 250 senators hand-picked by the junta vote for him. 376 of 750 parliament seats are needed to form a government.
But the senate membership has not yet been announced.
The new Future Forward Party led by young businessman Thanatorn Juangroongruangkit came in third with 87 seats (26 constituency seats and 61 party list seats), according to the Post.
Abhisit Vejjajiva’s Democrat Party came in sixth with 39 seats total, leading the former prime minister to announce his resignation as leader of Thailand’s oldest political grouping.
“The unofficial results did not meet my targets in terms of the number of seats or being No 1. I must apologize to all Democrat supporters for being unable to push our ideology forward,” Abhisit said. “I must show responsibility. I'm resigning as party leader.”
Analysts had projected a win in the lower house for opposition parties, but said a junta-led government was still a potential outcome due to electoral laws the military government put in place.
“I insist that the party that receives the most votes has the right to form the government first,” Pheu Thai party leader Sudarat Keyuraphan told supporters after polls closed, the Associated Press reported.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly gave the total number of parliament seats as 700.