News / Asia

Thai Elections End, Expose Bitter Divide

A local resident casts his ballot for the general election at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.
A local resident casts his ballot for the general election at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.
TEXT SIZE - +
Daniel Schearf
— Polls have closed in Thailand's tense national elections in which anti-government protesters forced the closure of hundreds of polling stations in the capital, Bangkok.

Voters have braved intimidation and threats of violence to participate in nationwide elections. Protesters forced elections to be canceled in nine of Thailand's 76 provinces and four of Bangkok's 50 districts, but most polling stations were able to open.  

Angry voters pound on the gates of one Bangkok district office demanding they be allowed to vote.

Anti-government protesters here earlier blocked officials from delivering ballots to nearby polling stations.

Political Developments in Thailand

2006: Army overthrows Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
2007: The pro-Thaksin People Power Party wins elections
2008: Anti-Thaksin protesters, known as "Yellow Shirts", stage months of demonstrations and briefly paralyze airports. Abhisit Vejjajiva becomes prime minister.
2010: Massive pro-Thaksin "Red Shirt" protests are held in Bangkok, dozens are killed
2011: Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin, elected prime minister
2013: Anti-government protesters hold massive demonstrations, Ms. Yingluck calls new elections
2014: Protesters camp in Bangkok to shut down the city
Voter Thippawan Sae-lao blamed election organizers for failing to protect her democratic right.

She says she feels disappointed because she could not cast her vote. They should have been well prepared, she says, because they already knew people would come out to vote.

Well-known independent politician Chuwit Kamolvisit was assaulted when he arrived at the empty polling station in his own neighborhood.

A few protesters splashed water at Chuwit, knocked him down, and pulled his shirt, but were quickly subdued by his security.

Chuwit, a massage parlor king turned anti-corruption advocate, says both the ruling party and opposition are to blame for Thailand's deep divisions.

“They have a conflict now. And, next year it's going to be a new conflict," said Chuwit. "Until they learn that the conflict have to be solved with the compromise, that is a politic. Politic(s) is a compromise, man. If not compromise, war.”

But protesters failed to stop the election itself and throughout most of Bangkok, and the rest of Thailand, ballots were delivered and voting took place with few incidents.

Voters hold their identification cards and the chains that held the gate of the polling station closed, as they demand the right to vote during general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 2, 2014.Voters hold their identification cards and the chains that held the gate of the polling station closed, as they demand the right to vote during general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 2, 2014.
x
Voters hold their identification cards and the chains that held the gate of the polling station closed, as they demand the right to vote during general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 2, 2014.
Voters hold their identification cards and the chains that held the gate of the polling station closed, as they demand the right to vote during general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 2, 2014.
At polling stations, police and soldiers were dispatched to maintain order, though neither used force.

After polls closed Sunday, Thailand's Election Commission on national television said 89% of the country's 93,000 polling stations were able to open.

Commission chairman Supachai Somcharoen repeated the commission's opposition to holding the election during the current unrest but also thanked voters for participating.

He says they are studying the laws and regulations to set February 23rd as a new election date for eligible voters who could not cast their ballots during early voting on January 26th.

Protesters that day blocked voting at nearly all of Bangkok's districts in scenes that led many to question their commitment to democracy.

Despite their failure to stop the election, protesters, who want an un-elected council to take over to usher in unspecified reforms, were in a celebratory and defiant mood.

Protesters danced to live music at Bangkok's Victory Monument, one of several protest sites in the city.

Paengporn Kunork says they want Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her family, who they say are corrupt, out of Thai politics.

She says they are celebrating as if they won because they are gradually winning, step by step. But their ultimate goal, she says, is to force the prime minister to reform and then they can start to reform the country.

After Sunday’s vote, attention turns to legal challenges to the ruling party in the courts in the coming weeks, and by-elections in the coming months.

Despite months of turmoil, Thailand’s political standoff shows no signs of nearing an end.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population 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.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid