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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs