Thai opposition set to win majority in lower house, coalition talks expected

Thailand's two major opposition parties are expected to win a combined majority in the lower house of parliament general election.

The focus of the election was whether the military-backed government would be able to hold onto power after taking control in a coup nine years ago.

Local media outlets say with 97 percent of the vote counted the Move Forward Party is projected to come out on top with 151 seats. The party is calling for the elimination of military influence and has gained support from young voters.

The largest opposition Pheu Thai Party, or PTP, looks set to secure 141 seats, fewer than expected. The PTP is affiliated with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha joined the United Thai Nation Party, which is projected to win 36 seats. The result appears to indicate voter criticism against the military-backed government.

However, whether there will be a change of government remains to be seen as the next prime minister will be selected by a joint vote of the 500-member lower house of parliament and the military-appointed Senate.

The vote will take place after the election results are finalized. Many Senate members are expected to cast their ballots in favor of pro-military parties.

The question is whether coalition talks will lead to the formation of the next government as there are wide policy differences between the two opposition parties.