Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha. Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Thailand’s election season has featured generals, populists, royals — and a wildly uneven playing field.

The big picture: The ruling military junta, led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, overthrew a democratically elected government in 2014. The generals will try their luck at the polls on Sunday, albeit after bringing in a new constitution that means they’re likely to win even if they lose.

  • The next prime minister will be selected by 500 elected members of Congress and 250 hand-picked senators. The junta therefore only needs one-quarter of the seats up for grabs to win outright and keep Prayuth in power.
  • The biggest threat comes from parties linked to exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (it was his sister Yingluck whom the junta toppled in 2014). Pro-Thaksin parties are unlikely to win an outright majority though, meaning smaller parties could play a pivotal role.
  • “The election campaign and its aftermath — the formal result is not expected until early May — has reopened the deep divide between Bangkok’s royalist elite and the populist pro-Shinawatra camp that has haunted Thai politics for the past two decades, and periodically dealt business and society some nasty shocks,” the FT’s John Reed writes.

Why it matters: Turnout for the election is expected to be high. The junta hopes for a carefully managed process that gives it more legitimacy and the confidence of Western leaders and foreign investors. Thai politics are volatile though, and there could be a surprise in store.

Go deeper

AOC to speak at Dem convention

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during an April a press conference in Queens, New York City. Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will speak at the Democratic convention next week, to give the nominating speech for Sen. Bernie Sanders on the Tuesday night, CNN first reported and Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: Her involvement is a strategic decision to energize young progressives without tying former Vice President Joe Biden too closely or directly with her agenda.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 20,001,019 — Total deaths: 733,897 — Total recoveries — 12,209,074Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,085,821 — Total deaths: 163,370 — Total recoveries: 1,670,755 — Total tests: 62,513,174Map.
  3. Politics: Trump claims he would have not called for Obama to resign over 160,000 virus deathsHouse will not hold votes until Sept. 14 unless stimulus deal is reached.
  4. Business: Richer Americans are more comfortable eating out.
  5. Public health: A dual coronavirus and flu threat is set to deliver a winter from hellAt least 48 local public health leaders have quit or been fired during pandemic.
  6. Sports: The cost of kids losing gym class — College football is on the brink.
  7. World: Europe's CDC recommends new restrictions amid "true resurgence in cases."
1 hour ago - World

Protests in Belarus turn deadly following sham election

An arrest today in Minsk. Photo: Natalia Fedosenko/TASS via Getty

Protesters and security forces are clashing across Belarus tonight, with at least one person dead, hundreds injured and thousands arrested.

Why it matters: Sunday’s rigged presidential elections have yielded political uncertainty unlike any seen in Aleksander Lukashenko’s 26-year tenure. After claiming an implausible 80% of the vote, Lukashenko is using every tool in the authoritarian arsenal to maintain his grip on power.