HomeAsiaYour Monday briefing: Thailand votes for change

Your Monday briefing: Thailand votes for change

thai voters overwhelmingly sought to end nearly a decade of military rulecasting votes in favor of two opposition parties that have pledged to reduce the power of two powerful conservative institutions: the military and the monarchy.

With 97 percent of the votes counted early this morning, the progressive Move Forward Party was neck-and-neck with the populist Pheu Thai Party. Move Forward had won 151 seats to Pheu Thai’s 141 in the 500-seat House of Representatives.

“We can frame this election as a referendum on the traditional power centers in Thai politics,” said Napon Jatusripitak, a visiting fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. “People want a change, and not just a change of government. They want structural reform.”

What is also clear is that the results are humbling for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power in a coup in 2014.

Advance: The party has focused on compulsory military conscription and seeks amend a law that makes it a crime to criticize the royal family. It has made amazing strides, engaging young urban voters and voters in the capital, Bangkok.

Pheu thai: The party was founded by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is still fondly remembered as a champion of the poor after he was ousted in a 2006 coup amid allegations of corruption. Thaksin’s daughter was the top choice for prime ministeraccording the surveys.

Whats Next: Since both Pheu Thai and Move Forward do not have enough seats to form a majority, they will need to negotiate with other parties to establish a coalition. But under the rules of the Thai system, written by the military after the coup, the junta would continue to play kingmaker. A decision on who will lead could take weeks or even months.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was facing the fiercest political challenge of his 20 years in power when Turkish voters went to the polls yesterday. The result could reshape Türkiye’s domestic and foreign policies.

The results they are still coming in, but the state news agency reported that the initial results showed Erdogan ahead. Opposition leaders dismissed those figures and Erdogan’s main rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, wrote on Twitter: “We are leading.”

If no candidate wins a majority, the two favorites would go to a runoff on May 28. Follow our live coverage.

Background: The vote was, in many ways, a referendum on Erdogan’s two decades as a dominant politician in Türkiye. He faced an extremely close race, largely due to outrage over the state of the economysuffering painful inflation since 2018.

The vote also came three months after tremors killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey, raising questions about whether Erdogan’s emphasis on construction produced buildings that were not safe.

Election Integrity: Turkey is neither a full-fledged democracy nor a full-fledged autocracy, and Erdogan has tilted the political playing field in his favor during the last two decades.

The war in Ukraine: A defeat for Erdogan would be a boon for the West and a loss for Russia. Erdogan has increased trade with Moscow, sought closer ties with President Vladimir Putin and stymied NATO expansion.

A storm forecast to be the strongest to hit Myanmar in over a decade made landfall near the border with Bangladesh yesterday. The storm, Cyclone Mocha, has killed at least six people, but early reports suggest it has so far not caused the humanitarian catastrophe authorities feared.

The cyclone-affected area of ​​western Myanmar is home to some of the world’s poorest people. The storm passed through Cox’s Bazar, a city in Bangladesh that is home to the world’s largest refugee camp, although authorities said they had not yet received reports of damage there.

The World Food Program said it was prepare for a large-scale emergency response. But some officials expressed cautious hope that the region could avoid the worst possible damage from the storm as it weakened over land.

Many Asian American women are named after Connie Chung, a veteran American television journalist. Writer Connie Wang explored the phenomenon, which she calls the “Connie Generation.”

“We all have our own stories about how our families came to the United States and why they chose the name they did,” he wrote. “But we are also part of a larger story: about the patterns that are formed by specific immigration policies and the ripple effect that a woman on television caused simply by being there, doing her job.”

For centuries in India, branding witches was largely driven by superstition. A crop failed, a well dried up, or a family member fell ill, and the villagers found someone, almost always a woman, to blame for a misfortune whose cause they did not understand.

Many Indian states have passed laws to eradicate the witch hunt, but the practice persists in some states. From 2010 to 2021, more than 1,500 people were killed following witchcraft accusations, according to government data.

One state has tried to stop the practice by deploying “witch-hunt prevention campaign teams”, which perform street plays to raise awareness. But enforcement of witch-hunting laws can be weak and entrenched beliefs are hard to change, activists say.

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