With 500 seats up for grabs, everyone is looking at 251 as the “magic number” required for a party (or coalition) to form a government.
But it’s more complicated than that.
The main risks for a weak majority are defections and no confidence votes. Both are common in Thai politics.
To survive a no-confidence vote a government actually needs more than a mathematical majority, since cabinet members aren’t allowed to vote. Credit Suisse estimates that 262 seats are necessary to survive, and nothing lower than 275 could be considered stable.
So, how many seats do Pheua Thai or the Democrats need in order to attempt to form a coalition that would meet those targets?
Pheua Thai, already the largest single party and yet in opposition, will need to win about 50 more seats than the Democrats in order to persuade the minor parties to jump ship from the former coalition. Their target will be around 235 but PT will be uncertain of the loyalties of the minor parties if they have anything short of an outright majority.
The Democrats need to win fewer seats than Pheua Thai to attract coalition partners. They’ve had 17 fewer seats than PT for the past two years. The outgoing coalition included both Bhum Jai Thai and Chart Thai Pattana, so Abhisit Vejjajiva can be confident of them coming on board if his party wins about 185 seats or more. But for the Democrats it’s not really about how many seats they themselves win. What matters is how many seats don’t go to Pheua Thai.