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

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves in Landmark Discovery

    Researchers likened discovery to difference between looking at piece of music on paper and then hearing it in real life

    Prince Ali: FIFA Politics Affected International Fixtures

    Some countries faced unfavorable treatment for not toeing political line inside soccer world body, Jordanian candidate to head FIFA says

    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.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of the city. They vow a siege will not be over quickly. But their plans are not being helped by squabbles breaking out among insurgent commanders.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Co-Ed Selective Service Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.