Pita Limjaroenrat, Thailand’s reformist leader, is unable to become Prime Minister.

Pita Limjaroenrat won in May after voters rejected nearly a decade of hardline military rule.

He has a smaller parliamentary majority but was unable to persuade enough unelected senators, all 249 of whom were nominated by a previous military regime, to support him.

Mr Pita is also facing last-minute legal challenges that could result in his disqualification. He denies violating any election rules.

“I accept it, but I’m not giving up,” he told journalists. “I will not give up and will use this opportunity to gain more support.”

Unsurprisingly, all senators save 13 voted against Move Forward, either abstaining or voting against its leader. When a vote went in favor of the young Move Forward leader, there were shouts from the audience outside parliament; when it went against him, there were groans and jeers.

He needed the votes of more than half of the 749 members of parliament’s two chambers to win, but he only received 324 votes, falling 51 votes shy of the required 375.

Parliament is required by law to continue voting until a Prime Minister is elected; another vote is set for next week. However, it is unclear how Mr Pita will make up the difference.

That increases the likelihood that the political turmoil observed in Thailand in recent years may reoccur; the expectations of millions of Thais for a new beginning for their country look to have been crushed.

“You have a lot of elements for democracy, but you need an election at the very least.” And that election should be significant. “Why should I bother coming to vote any longer, because my vote obviously doesn’t matter any longer,” one Move Forward supporter complained.

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