BANGKOK – A pro-military party in Thailand on Monday celebrated the leader of the vote counts in the weekend's election and suggested that the army underway with a 2014 coup had a likely permit to continue its squad on power.
But on Monday afternoon, a populist force which, in an incarnation or another, dominated every previous election, this century claimed its own victory.
A partial census showed that the populist party, Pheu Thai, had so far gathered the most parliamentary seats on offer, which party officials said was a more important metric than the popular vote. The party represents the interests of Thaksin Shinawatra, a polarizing former prime minister who loved the rural poor when he was despised by the establishment elite.
But the truth is that in Thailand, a nation with a stunt democracy is plagued by complicated rules designed to continue the military power, neither the popular voice nor the number of seats in this election is the true barometer of power.
Forces loyal to Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of the junta who orchestrated that coup, said he seemed ready to continue as prime minister, even though the party that nominated him, Palang Pracharat , was in second place in the competition for 500 seats in the lower house.
Because the country's military-issued constitution ensures that t Han 250-member Senate is fully appointed by the military, Mr. Prayuth may be able to count on enough votes from both sides of the parliament to hold the top job. In an unusual twist to a parliamentary democracy, a candidate for prime minister in Thailand need not be a elected member of parliament.
Purawich Watanasukh, a researcher at the King Prajadhipok's Institute in Thailand, said he was "totally surprised by Palang Pracharat's achievements." Purawich was among many analysts to have predicted that Mr. Prayuth's perceived lack of popularity could affect military performance.
A completely unofficial counter of Sunday's vote is not expected to be late this week.
Uttama Savanayana, the party leaders of Palang Pracharat, said in a press conference on Monday afternoon that "we have from the outset said that any party receiving the most votes is able to form a government."
On Friday, Mr Prayuth, a former army chief with an ambivalent attitude towards democracy spoke of his involvement in his homeland. "I love Thailand and I want to die for this country," he said on a political rally.
Monday afternoon, the electoral commission delayed for the third time releasing its unofficial counter of Sunday's polls. Such delays have never happened before, says Thai election experts.
Before the vote began, the Election Commission, appointed by the junta, said that it would have preliminary results counted around. Sunday. But late that night, Ittiporn Boonprakong, chairman of the electoral commission, said that the census would stop for the night and that the results would be released at. 10 Monday.
"I don't have a calculator," he said in response to queries about the ballot's intricacies.
This deadline was later changed to 2 pm Then the Election Commission said the results would be published at. 16.00 but only for 350 of the 500 seats in the Lower House.
The winners of the other 150 seats can be announced on Friday, Nut Laosisavakul, Vice-President of the Commission, said on Monday afternoon.
It is not clear what was asked for this latest delay. The calculation for who will fill these 150 seats representing parties rather than constituencies is complicated. But with irregularities being installed, election observatories are nervous.
"My understanding is that the electoral commission has a duty to continue counting the ballot through the night, so this is potentially problematic or illegal," said Pandit Chanrochanakit, deputy chief of politics at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
Prior to the election, diplomats in Bangkok announced that any delay in publishing the results could raise concerns, especially since relatively few independent election observers had been deployed.
Herr. Pandit said hundreds of pupils organized by a scholarship had ripped across the country to observe in 350 constituencies and had reported many irregularities, including voting that was not translucent.
"Based on our observation, there are some problems that make this choice not free or fair," he said.
The number of invalid votes was nearly 6 percent, the Election Commission said, and 1.5 percent of polls recorded no vote at all.
Sudarat Keyuraphan, Pheu Thailand's prime minister's candidate called for general policy to prevail.
"Whatever the result, which party achieves the majority vote, one must first form a coalition government," she said. "We don't want to fight with anyone for power."
The official results of Sunday's election may not have been published before the beginning of May.
The month celebrates the crown of King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun. In a constitutional monarchy with some of the world's toughest royal defamation laws, any political instability before then could be considered harmful to national unity.
Anti-junta forces are composed of both working classmates who are loyal to Thaksin's populist party and an urban elite tired of the way in which politics has been polarized for almost two decades.
Future Forward, a new party founded by the Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, an heir to an auto party's fortune, won a surprising number of seats in the Sunday's Sunday counter, a remarkable feat for a party that didn't exist a year ago. Mr. Thanathorn, one of the junta's most famous critics, has called for the country's military budget to be cut.
"I have my own voice now and I want a new voice to correct the country and bring the country a better direction with a better economy," says Panita Dispueng, a college student and first-time voter.
Much is still uncertain about how politics will unfold in the coming months, especially as the military-spelled constitution has introduced timelines and inappropriate regulations unknown in Thailand.
If Mr. Prayuth continues as prime minister, he will not enjoy the same luxury as when Thailand was ruled by a junta, analysts say.
"He will no longer have absolute power and deal with parliamentary politics is something he is not aware of," says Mr Purawich.
Meanwhile, some of the democratic parties face potential existential crises. Thai could be dissolved if outstanding complaints about the party are moving forward. Two of Pheu Thai's precursors were disbanded for electoral fraud.  Mr Thaksin is now in exile after corruption-bound beliefs, like his sister Yingluck Shinawatra, a Another former Prime Minister.
"The last gift God can give you is hope," Thaksin told his followers Monday, predicting a much better display of Pheu Thai.
Other Parties, including Future Forward, have criminal cases against their leaders hanging over them, Mr. Thanathorn could find out as early as Tuesday whether he will face prison time for a computer crime charge derived from an F acebook Live video he gave last year.
Human rights groups say the tax that his substitute is also facing is politically motivated.