Thailand: Election results to be announced after 27 April
12 February 2014
Thailand’s February 2 elections have not brought about conclusive results yet. It was announced today that re-runs of the elections will be held on 27 April in constituencies where voting was obstructed.
According to unofficial results, voter turnout on 2 February was only around 47% of the 43 million eligible voters in Thailand. The opposition Democrat Party had boycotted the elections. However, the low turnout also indicates that Prime Minister Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party lost support.
Claims by the Democrat Party that the elections had violated the constitution were dismissed by Thailand’s constitutional court. It remains unclear what will be done in the 28 constituencies where the registration process of candidates was blocked.
The blocking of polling stations before the elections had led to clashes between government support groups, the police, and anti-government activists. According to news reports, at 49 out of Bangkok’s 50 polling stations voting was either completely blocked or halted. In 10 out of 76 provinces throughout Thailand voting was disrupted as well.
The oppositional Democrat Party had announced in December to boycott the general elections on 2 February. Democrat Party leader and former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said: ‘The Democrats think the elections will not solve the country's problems, lead to reform, or regain people's faith in political parties,’ and that political reforms were needed before the next elections. Representatives of the ruling Pheu Thai Party registered for the elections despite the ongoing protests. Registration of candidates was not possible in 28 constituencies due to protesters blocking the registration process.
The protest groups criticise the government for corruption and nepotism and are united in their goal to remove the Yingluck government which they allege is orchestrated from abroad by Thaksin. Their proposed plan for political reform includes the establishment of a non-elected ‘people’s council’ which will draft legislation and push for anti-corruption reforms and electoral reform. Yingluck said in December that she would try to ‘open every door’ for negotiations. However, protester’s demands for a people’s council were irreconcilable with the constitution.
Anti-government protests had begun after 1 November, when the lower house passed the controversial amnesty bill that could have allowed former leader Thaksin Shinawatra to return from exile without facing jail for corruption charges. Even though the bill, which was proposed by his sister and current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party, was rejected by the Senate already on 11 November, the protests continued to deteriorate. Following the rallies, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra decided to dissolve the government and schedule early elections. She said it was best to ‘give back the power to the Thai people and hold an election’.