News / Asia

Thai Court Rules Snap Election Can Be Delayed

Members of the
Members of the "White Shirt" movement hold a candlelight vigil to demand democratic elections and political reforms in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 24, 2014.
Ron Corben
Thailand's Constitutional Court says the Election Commission has the power to postpone the election scheduled for February 2 and has called for talks between the commission and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. But Yingluck's ruling party remains steadfast in pressing ahead with the vote despite ongoing street protests.

The commission had been seeking a court ruling on the extent of its powers to make decisions on the future of the poll, in light of protests in Bangkok that have left nine people dead and hundreds injured over the past three months.

The government this week declared a 60-day state of emergency covering Bangkok and nearby provinces, aimed at curbing the protests. The emergency declaration has raised concerns by human rights groups.  

Legal experts say under Thailand's 2007 constitution, the five-member Election Commission has the power to postpone the vote. The commission had been seeking government support to delay the polls. The constitutional court said the commission and prime minister should hold talks on any new polling date.

"It's a kind of a Thai way of approach," explained Dej-Udom Krairit, president of the Lawyers Council of Thailand; "even though you are empowered but at least you are going to discuss with the current administration on how to proceed. Even though the Election Committee [Commission] has the authority but they still need cooperation from the government agencies around the country."

The commission had been seeking talks with Yingluck, but instead the government arranged a meeting of political parties that endorsed the February 2 polling date. Anti-government protesters prevented candidate registration in 28 districts, and another 22 districts have only one candidate.

  • An anti-government protester wears a mask made of "No Vote" stickers as he marches with others through Bangkok, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban greets the crowd as he leads anti-government protesters marching through Bangkok, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Police try to clear a main street for an anti-government protest march in Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters with national flags gather for a rally in Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters hold placards during a march through central Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • An anti-government protester holds a national flag in front of a portrait of Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, during a rally, Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters chain the gate of an office for the Land Transportation Department in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • Riot police stand guard inside the compound of the Thai Royal Police Club in Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • An anti-government protester plays a guitar near a barricade outside the compound of the Thai Royal Police Club in Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • A girl reacts at an anti-government rally in central Bangkok, Jan. 28, 2014.

The anti-government protests are calling for Yingluck's government to resign and the polling date delayed until political reforms are in place through a non-elected council. Protest leaders say the reforms are necessary to bring an end to rampant vote buying and corruption.

Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political scientist and former government spokesman under the Democrat Party, says postponing the February 2 poll would allow for negotiations.

"Of course the election should be postponed," he agreed. "Postponing the election with the intention to renegotiate a political solution so to avoid walking into a more complicated situation.  The court rules the Election Commission can share, can mandate to push for the decree you may have another way out led by election commission."

The governing Pheu Thai Party says it is pressing ahead with the February poll despite a boycott by the opposition Democrat Party. The ruling party says the election is a key step toward resolving current political tensions.

Pro-government red shirt supporters are vowing to stage rallies in provincial areas to support the February 2 poll. A university poll Friday found widespread support for the election.   

Supavud Saicheua, a senior economist at Phatra Securities, says the court decision has failed to clear political uncertainties.

"If the court allows the election commission to change the election date and I don't know when a government can be formed or even if the Pheu Thai government will be toppled and the Red Shirts come out,  then it's a whole different ball game and a great deal of uncertainty will prevail," Supavud said.

The crisis was triggered by a government blanket amnesty bill, later voted down, seen as favoring the return of Yingluck's older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who is living in exile and facing jail for corruption. Other members of the Yingluck cabinet were also covered by the bill.

Protesters claim Thaksin exerts excessive influence over the government. But the governing party is also favored to return to power if the February 2 polls proceed.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More