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What the election rout means for Thai military elite

STORY: The landslide victory of two progressive political parties in Thailand's election on Sunday may signal the end of years of control by factions backed by the military establishment, going back to the the country's coup in 2014.

And it also highlights the number of people openly questioning the role of the monarchy there, particularly among younger generations, a subject that was once considered taboo.

The biggest victor, the Move Forward party, and its ally the Pheu Thai party, have now agreed to form a coalition.

But their wins don't necessarily mean that they can take power, or that Move Forward's leader Pita Limjaroenrat, can become prime minister.

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Because the military and its allies still have options.

"It will be quite a hefty price to pay if someone is thinking about debunking the election result or forming a minority government."

Thitanan Pongsudhirak is a political science professor at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. He tells Reuters what brought Move Forward this far, and what the days ahead could hold.

“Move Forward has welfare policies, but Move Forward has moved to a new frontier. It’s no longer about populism. So, actually, they have tapped into a larger sentiment that has been feeling, I think, that Thailand needs to change. And that change has to do with reform of the military, the monarchy, getting rid of the draft."

"So, a military coup for them will be the last resort. We might see some manipulation, some subversion, short of a military coup, we’ve seen party dissolutions in the past. Disqualification of the politicians as you know Pita, the leader of Move Forward, is under a charge, he could be disqualified, so we might see something like that. So if there’s subversion of the result from yesterday which is a very strong mandate we could very well see some social unrest as a result.

Scenes like this three years ago helped give rise to these election results: student led protests against the power of the monarchy and military.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha first came to power in the 2014 coup.

The most immediate next hurdle to Pita replacing the prime minister, seen here, is Pita needs to command a majority in parliament.

The issue with that, is that the members of one of the chambers of parliament, the Senate, were appointed by the military after the coup... and have traditionally sided with parties led by generals.

The progressive parties are calling for the Senate to respect the will of the people.

The military says it only intervenes in civilian politics when it has to act to save the nation from chaos and it has ruled out any involvement in the election.