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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid