Approximately 52 million eligible voters in Thailand will have the opportunity to decide between progressive opposition parties and the current government led by Prayuth, who initially seized power in a coup in 2014, during the upcoming general elections.
About 95,000 polling stations set up across the country opened at 8:00 am (0100 GMT) on Sunday.
The main opposition Pheu Thai party led by former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra along with the Move Forward party— were projected to win most of the 500 seats of the lower house, in the final opinion polls.
This is the first election being held since youth-led pro-democracy protests broke out in 2020.
A political party, or coalition, needs to win a majority of 376 votes from both the 500-seat lower house and the 250 military-appointed senators.
The next premier will be selected in a joint session of the lower house and the 250-seat Senate, which will take place in July.
Fears linger despite a wind of change
Despite opinion polls suggesting the likelihood of a change in government, a history of military coups, court orders and junta-formulated 2017 constitution sustain fears of the military’s continued rule.
In the 2019 elections, Pheu Thai won most seats but its military-backed nemesis, the Palang Pracharath Party, entered into a coalition with Prayuth as prime minister.
The Senate, which comprises members who favor the military, will jointly decide the fate of the country which has seen dozens of coups in the last century and witnessed a series of street protests.