News / Asia

Thai Opposition to Boycott February Vote

Thai anti-government protesters wave national flags as they follow march through streets of Bangkok, Dec. 20, 2013.
Thai anti-government protesters wave national flags as they follow march through streets of Bangkok, Dec. 20, 2013.
Ron Corben
Thailand's main opposition Democrat Party says it will boycott national elections in early February because it does not see how the vote can resolve the current political crisis. With more anti-government protests expected, analysts and Thai army leaders say the boycott announcement is an additional concern.

Opposition Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva announced his party's withdrawal Saturday from the February 2 election. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had called for the vote in the hope of ending weeks of street protests against her government's policies and legislative agenda.

Anti-government protesters march during rally at major business district, Bangkok, Dec. 20, 2013.Anti-government protesters march during rally at major business district, Bangkok, Dec. 20, 2013.
x
Anti-government protesters march during rally at major business district, Bangkok, Dec. 20, 2013.
Anti-government protesters march during rally at major business district, Bangkok, Dec. 20, 2013.
Yingluck, in a broadcast on national television, called on all parties to support a national reform council to be set up after the polls.

But Abhisit, a former prime minister, said the Democrat Party's decision was based on a growing loss of confidence in the government's ability to enact reforms. His deputy leader, Kiat Sittheeamorn, says party members feel an election alone will not resolve Thailand's present crisis.

"Basically we will not field any candidate for the election this time for February 2 and the reason being that at this point in time we do not believe that the election on the 2nd of February is going to answer to the people and also the crisis that we are facing," said Kiat.

The boycott by the Democrats, whose support base is in the southern provinces and central regions, follows a similar move in 2006 when Yingluck's older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, then Prime Minister, called a snap election in response to street protests about corruption. The election was later annulled by the courts.

On Saturday, Yingluck set out a plan for a post-election national reform council, comprising representatives from political parties, professions and institutions, to recommend changes - especially political reforms - after the polls.

The current anti-government street protests, led by a former Democrat Party member of parliament, are calling for the government's suspension and formation of an independent reform council before fresh elections can be held. Protesters accuse the government of abusing its majority in the House, especially over a blanket amnesty bill that would have cleared Yingluck's brother of corruption charges arising from his time as government chief.   

Analysts are divided over the timing of elections and the type of reforms that Thailand needs.

Titipol Phakdeewanich, a political scientist from the northeastern university of Ubon Ratchathani, says a boycott could damage the Democrat Party's reputation and hopes of gaining votes in the northern regions, a known stronghold of Yingluck's governing Pheu Thai Party.

"They must remember that Thailand is not just Bangkok and the south, and if they want to win they have to look out to the rest of the country - this is very important - [for] how to gain support, how to motivate people to vote for the party. It's very important," said Titipol. "When they are not taking part [voting], they destroy both the domestic and international reputation of the party in the long term."  

Other analysts contend a snap election is unlikely to end to Thailand's present political conflict. They feel the government's present course could exacerbate tensions and further destabilize Thai politics.

Thai Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha is reported to have warned there is a danger of civil conflict if the political crisis continues, and is proposing a people's assembly to heal the deep political rifts. Earlier, the army had said it would support the voters' decisions, if the vote is free and fair.

Thailand's Election Commission met with Yingluck Friday and said the vote could go ahead, providing political reconciliation takes place before February.

You May Like

Nearly 900 Dead, Missing in 2014 Air Disasters

Southeast Asia took a particularly heavy hit; 3 major events involved weather, two planes were shot down in eastern Ukraine, and one crash was attributed to mechanical problems More

Video Islamic State Emergence Transformed Syria, Iraq in 2014

'It was very clear that there were problems building up in Iraq at the end of 2013 but everybody was distracted by Syria,' says one expert, explaining group's rapid rise More

Rights Group: IS Executed Nearly 2,000 in Syria in 6 Months

Islamist group also killed 120 of its own members, most foreign fighters trying to return home, in past two months, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: hoa minh truong from: western Australia
December 21, 2013 6:20 PM
PM Yingluck Shinawatra made terrible mistake, she and her party raised an amnesty for the deposed PM Thatsin, who fled at Dubai after the coup in 2006. A billionaire, Chinese ethnic background succeeded the election in 2001, he got support from peasant, they use Red flag.
The Thatsin coming back is the sub reason, indeed the opposition parties want to remove the Thatsin's influence in Thai political arena, so they are using the Thatsin's amnesty as the fresh cause to protest and also require PM Yingluck resigns.
The end of year is time of Thai peasant collect harvest, so the Red flag's people have not appear against the Yellow flag, it is the failure of PM Yinglucj Shinawartra, she will lose all, including the hope to bring her elder brother back to Thailand is impossible.
The time table of election on January 2, 2014 that is as buying time, the peasant finish the harvest, then they will appear on the cities, including Bangkok to support Yingluck. The opposition parties know what Yingluck conspires, so they refuse the election time table.
Hoa Minh Truong.
( author of 3 books: the dark journey, good evening Vietnam & from laborer to author)


by: chopinfan from: USA
December 21, 2013 4:12 PM
The people should not concern about the DEM party as the country doesn't really need politicians to survive. However we must come up with new reform to limit politician power, enforce/prosecute corrupted politicians/officials, reach out to all (rural) people so we all can prosper not just Bangkok, fair for all judicial system, setup a new agency to track/prosecute corrupted individuals, ban immediate family members of convicted politicians & officials from running public offices etc. Without workable reform and all people participation(referendum), we will have the same issues for a while. In the nutshell, we should not concern too much and pay too much attention to DEM party. The country will do ok without them if we have good system in place (where corrupted politicians will be minimized or discouraged to corrupt).

In Response

by: jethromayham
December 21, 2013 6:06 PM
Whoever wins is still corrupt. How can you change something that is ingrained in their culture. Everyone was taught to love the King but even he can't get rid of corruption because even his court is corrupt.

TYep the country will waddle around until the ARMY STEPS IN AGAIN BUT THIS TIME IT WILL BECOME A BIGGER MESS AND IT WILL E THE END OF THE MONARCHY as a civil war breaks out in a country of smiles.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaisei
X
Daniel Schearf
December 25, 2014 4:34 PM
Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video 2014 Saw Intensification of Boko Haram Insurgency

The year 2014 saw Nigerian militant sect Boko Haram intensify its five-year insurgency and target civilians in large numbers as it seized territory in the northeast. The kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Chibok in April sparked global outrage, but failed to become the turning point against the sect that Nigeria’s president said it would be. The picture at year's end is one of devastation and uncertainty. VOA’s Anne Look reports.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Fight to Survive Water Crisis

In a region choking from dwindling water supplies, Lebanon has long been regarded as one of the few places where there is enough. But in recent years, half the people in the country have faced severe shortages. And the more than 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon are hit the worst by the water crisis, making the country's most vulnerable people increasingly impoverished and sick. Heather Murdock reports for VOA in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid