Thailand will hold national elections on May 14, the country’s Election Commission announced on Tuesday.
The commission’s announcement came a day after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha dissolved parliament, kicking off official campaigning for the general election.
“The Election Commissioner agreed with the electoral plan to hold the election on May 14,” Thailand’s Election Commission said in a press release.
It added that candidate registrations would be held in the first week of April, while early voting would take place on May 7. More than 52 million Thais are eligible to vote in the election.
Prayuth, who has been in power since engineering a military coup in 2014, is running for re-election representing the United Thai Nation Party. In 2014, his military junta deposed Yingluck Shinawatra, a younger sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was himself deposed as PM in a 2006 coup.
Prayuth faces competition from Thaksin’s daughter, the Pheu Thai party’s Paetongtarn “Ung Ing” Shinawatra. Another challenger is Deputy Prime Minister and ruling Palang Pracharath nominee Prawit Wongsuwon, another former general who had earlier backed Prayuth.
Since the March 2019 general election, Prayuth has seen his grip on power slip. He has survived four no-confidence votes in parliament since 2020, with the most recent one this past July. If re-elected in the May polls, he would have to leave office by April 5, 2025, because of constitutional term limits.
According to survey results released Sunday, the likely prime ministerial nominee for Pheu Thai, Ung Ing, who is 36 and pregnant, is comfortably ahead of Prayuth, by 38.2% to 15.65%. Pheu Thai has yet to officially name its candidate.
But it won’t be easy sailing for Pheu Thai and its allies even if they were to win more than half of the 500 seats in parliament’s lower house.
The opposition coalition likely would need support from members of the 250-seat Senate, who were hand-picked by Prayuth’s administration, to reach the 376-vote threshold to name the next government leader.