News / Asia

    Thailand Election Indicates Ruling Party Lost Support

    A local resident casts his ballot for the general election at a polling station in Bangkok, Feb. 2, 2014.
    A local resident casts his ballot for the general election at a polling station in Bangkok, Feb. 2, 2014.
    Daniel Schearf
    Voter turnout in Thailand's February 2 election was dampened by a boycott by the main opposition party as well as anti-government protesters who tried to block voting.  But as ballot counting continues, analysts say the lower turn-out also appears to show the ruling Pheu Thai party lost some support. 

    Out of 43 million eligible voters in Thailand, 20 million, about 47 percent, cast their ballots, according to unofficial results.

    That compares to a 75 percent voter turnout in 2011, the last election in Thailand's ongoing political turmoil. 

    Thai authorities say an opposition boycott and anti-government protesters were largely to blame for the lower numbers. 

    Occupying major Bangkok intersections for months, the protesters campaigned against elections, prevented some candidates from registering to run, and blocked polling officials, ballot delivery and voters in parts of the country.

    Thailand Development Research Institute's Somchai Jitsuchon estimates about half of those who did not vote were opposition Democrat Party supporters.  But, he says there are many reasons why people did not cast a ballot.

    "There are ones who are fed up with this government. There are one who are fed up with the whole system. And, there are ones who probably would like to vote for the Pheu Thai but were prevented from doing that. And, also there may be those who believe that this election will be invalid, finally. So, they didn't think that they should go out to vote anyway because it would not be counted," said Somchai.

    Thailand's Election Commission says an estimated three million Thais voted for none of the candidates, known as a "no vote."

    Somchai says that although the turnout figures must be interpreted carefully, preliminary indications show the embattled Pheu Thai party also lost significant electoral support.

    "But from some of the estimates, most people believe that the Pheu Thai party will get less vote this time around than what they got in the previous election, probably by a few million less. So, that would affect into their legitimacy in terms of forming the government," said Somchai.

    Somchai notes any new government's legitimacy will also be affected by the absence of the opposition Democrat Party.

    The anti-government protests started in November when the ruling Pheu Thai party backed a controversial amnesty bill before it was voted down in the Senate.

    The law would have dropped charges against top leaders during years of political unrest, and voided a prison sentence given former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. 

    Opposition Democrats denounced the bill, but it was also rejected by the ruling party's mainly rural "Red Shirt" supporters. They said it let off Democrat Party leaders who ordered a military crackdown in 2010 against protesting Red Shirts. More than 90 people died in the fighting.

    Noppadon Pattama, one of Thaksin's lawyers and a ruling party lawmaker, acknowledges the amnesty push was a mistake.

    "If we can go back, you know, rewind the tape back, we would not have proposed that amendment to the bill. It's a... grave political miscalculation at that particular time because the society may not be ready for that type of law.  We haven't done enough PR for the introduction of that particular piece of law at that particular time," said Noppadon.

    As ballot counting continues from Sunday’s poll, numerous legal challenges to the vote are being waged in Thailand’s courts. The final results of the election are not expected for months.
    • An anti-government protester waves a national flag during a rally in Bangkok, Feb. 7, 2014.
    • Anti-government protesters wave Thai national flags as they march through central Bangkok, Feb. 7, 2014.
    • Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban collects donations from supporters during a march through streets in Bangkok, Feb. 7, 2014.
    • Anti-government protesters move through the streets near occupied government buildings in Bangkok, Feb. 5, 2014.
    • Anti-government protesters travel atop a bus near the Interior Ministry building in Bangkok, Feb. 5, 2014.
    • Street cleaners brush the main anti-government protest site with detergent and brooms in Bangkok, Feb. 5, 2014.
    • Anti-government protesters cheer during a march through Bangkok, Feb. 3, 2014.
    • Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban collects donation from supporters during a march through Bangkok, Feb. 3, 2014.
    • An anti-government protester carrying a national flag, a guitar and a "No Vote" sign follows others moving from one protest camp to another in Bangkok, Feb. 3, 2014.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora