14 May 2023: Thailand and Turkey elections

Both Thailand and Turkey have held general elections today. In both cases, results are already coming in, with the opposition ahead in Thailand and the incumbent president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leading in Turkey, but unclear if he can stay over 50%.

Thailand is using an MMP MMM system to elect the popular chamber of its parliament, but the military-imposed constitution gives a senate it controls powers over government formation. In Turkey, the relatively new constitution makes the presidency extremely powerful. The presidential election requires a majority. The assembly is also up for election today.

I would be dubious (understatement) about calling either country a democracy currently, but obviously if oppositions can prevail despite the deck being stacked against them, it might help nudge the systems back towards democracy.

That is about all I know. I hope readers will chime in as F&V-relevant news arrives on either country.

13 thoughts on “14 May 2023: Thailand and Turkey elections

  1. This is the first Thai election since 2001 where a party controlled by the Shinawatra family did not win the popular vote. It will also be the first government formation since Rama X, who is said, unlike his father, to be close to the Shinawatras, became king. The king belongs to a different military faction from the prime minister.

    The largest armed forces faction, Wongthewan (Divine Progeny), which includes the king, has been doing very well in the annual military reshuffle since Rama X acceded. They currently control all three service commands and the Bangkok military region command. The second largest faction, Burapha Phayak (Eastern Tigers) includes the prime minister. There are 6 other military factions with equally exotic names, including Suea Dam (Black Panthers).

    Predictions are impossible at this stage, but assuming the palace and the military will support a continuation of Phan-ocha’s rule is not necessarily a safe bet. It’s a mark of the strangeness of Thai politics that you have to ask whether Divine Progeny will defeat the Eastern Tigers.


  2. One interesting factor that seems evident in the results (<a href=”https://www.ectreport.com/overview>available here) is a very high level of ballot-splitting, particularly in rural areas. In Ang Thong province, for example, the Bhumjathai Party has won both single-member district seats with 51% of the vote, but on the list tier Move Forward has won 35% and Bhumjathai has only won 5%. In an aggregate sense, this means that Bhumjathai has won 68 of the 400 SMD seats, 12% of the SMD vote, but a mere 2.8% of the list vote.


    • It’s possible Thailand (or at least people responsible for the logistics of the House of Representatives chamber) dodged something of a bullet by rejecting two-vote MMP, given these levels of split ticket voting. My rough estimate of the results under MMP, using the NZ method of dealing with overhang seats, would have expanded the House of Representatives by a whopping 96 seats to accommodate a 53-seat overhang for Bhumjathai, a 10-seat overhang for the Democrat Party, and a 32-seat overhang for the Palang Pracharath Party (Prayuth’s former party)


  3. In Turkey, supporters of the third candidate for President, the right-wing Sinan Oğan, may be expected to put Erdoğan over the top in the second round, and the parliamentary election looks no more interesting. With Erdoğan and allies getting 316 of the 600 seats, the CHP 169, its centre-right ally IYI 44, the Kurdish PDP 62, an Islamist splinter 5, and the far-left 3, Erdoğan may have almost complete control.


  4. Why do so many countries use a two-round system to elect the President? I am surprised that the Irish STV system and Sri Lanka supplementary system is not more popular around the world to elect a President. What is the point of having a 2nd round if the plurality winner is so close to 50% + 1? Unless the 2nd place candidate for the first round will win the 2nd round.


  5. “Unless the 2nd place candidate for the first round will win the 2nd round.”

    This possibility is the whole point of the existence of a 2nd round.

    About the 2nd round being more common than STV or other methods, is probably because is more simple to understand (for example, is less prone to fallacies like “some voters have 2 votes and others only one!”)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed. I actually think the more interesting question is how did Sri Lanka end up with a ranked-choice ballot for president instead of a two-round system? I do not know the story.

      I would add that there is practically an iron law that STV and other rules involving ranking never get adopted outside of Britain or countries formerly ruled by Britain. The only exception I am aware of is Estonia, for one election. Sri Lanka, of course, fits with the almost-iron law. (I should note the rule there is not STV, but something more like the “contingent vote“).

      When I say “STV” I include its single-seat version (the “alternative vote”) as covered by the broader term.


      • It’s a pity Egypt didn’t adopt rankings for its presidential election during that brief window of democracy. Didn’t two moderate candidates place 3rd and 4th?


        • Yes. In fact, by chance, someone contacted me just today about having read my post on the case you are referring to. The person was wondering if there were other similar examples. I am sure there are, but could not immediately think of a good one.


      • The 2011 Icelandic draft constitution would have provided for STV if the parliament had not ignored a referendum. And while the umpah reached a long way, it never reached Alaska or the Academy Awards.


      • It’s one thing to call AV “STV”. It’s another to call it “Proportional Representation by means of the Single Transferable Vote”, as South Asian constitutions tend to do…


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