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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid