Vote counting underway in Thai general election

Vote counting is underway in Thailand's first general election in 4 years. The focus is on how many seats the opposition will gain and whether there will be a change of government.

People flocked to polling stations across the country on Sunday. Voters cast their ballots with hope for the future. A university student said she wants change to make Thailand a better country. A company employee said he will wait to see if the party he voted for can form a government.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha led a military coup and seized power 9 years ago. He is seeking re-election with the backing of the United Thai Nation Party.

Various polls suggest the largest opposition Pheu Thai Party is on track to gain the most seats. The PTP's prime ministerial candidate is Paetongtarn Shinawatra. She is the daughter of former leader Thaksin Shinawatra. The PTP is affiliated with Thaksin, who was ousted in a prior coup in 2006.

Another opposition contender is the Move Forward Party. The party managed to rapidly expand its support among young voters during the final days of campaigning.

Senators appointed by the former military-led government will take part in the parliamentary nomination of the prime minister. Many of them are expected to vote in favor of the military.

This means the opposition will have to win an overwhelming majority to bring about a change of government.

Preliminary results are expected within hours.