News / Asia

Thai Opposition Challenges 'Unconstitutional' Election

Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban collects donation from supporters during a march through Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 3, 2014.
Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban collects donation from supporters during a march through Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 3, 2014.
Barry Newhouse
— Thailand's opposition is moving ahead with legal challenges to Sunday's election, which failed to resolve a months-long political standoff.

The opposition Democrat Party, which boycotted the polls, asked the Constitutional Court on Tuesday to disband the ruling Pheu Thai party.

A petition filed by the Democrats says the government tried to "grab power through unconstitutional means" by holding the early elections.

A second submission says the voting should not have been held during the state of emergency imposed last month to deal with pre-election violence.

Thai election authorities are still counting ballots from Sunday’s vote, but whatever the result, the election alone will not break the political deadlock that has gripped the country since November.
 
Parliament needs 95 percent of seats to be filled in order to reach a quorum and elect a prime minister. However, protesters prevented any candidates from registering in some constituencies and blocked voting in enough others to deny the quorum. Election officials have suggested they cannot schedule by-elections to fill the empty seats until the protests end.
 
In Bangkok, the hub of the anti-government movement, the number of protesters participating in daily rallies has decreased, but they still march at will throughout the city and occupy government ministries. Despite tough talk from the police and government, no protest leaders have been arrested.
 
As the standoff continues, many observers believe that legal challenges lodged by the government’s opponents could break the impasse by unseating the caretaker government and politically crippling the ruling Pheu Thai party, which is backed by controversial former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
 
Thai courts ruled against Thaksin-allied parties in 2006 and 2008, driving them from power until they won elections to return. Another court decision against a Thaksin-allied party could lead to a backlash from supporters, who are likely to view the decision as unjust.
 
One or more of the following scenarios could come to pass in the coming weeks. 
 
Courts invalidate the election
 
The opposition Democrat Party has said it will challenge the legitimacy of Sunday’s election, arguing that it was an attempt to grab power through unconstitutional means. They are also challenging the government’s declared state of emergency ahead of the vote, saying it meant the election could not be held under normal circumstances.
 
The Constitutional Court could rule against Yingluck, invalidate the election and order a new one. However, there is no guarantee that a new vote would end protests, especially if the opposition Democrat Party continues to refuse to participate in the polls.
 
In November, the Constitutional Court ruled that an attempt by the ruling party to have the entire Senate directly elected was in fact an attempt to “overthrow” the country’s democratic system. The court is now considering pressing charges against 308 former lawmakers allegedly involved in that decision. Most of the accused are from the ruling Pheu Thai party.
 
The Constitutional Court decisions could end up disbanding the ruling Pheu Thai party, a fate shared by previous Thaksin-backed political parties.
 
Corruption charges cripple ruling party
 
Government opponents accuse the ruling party of rampant corruption, and highlight a controversial rice-buying scheme as a prime example. Yingluck campaigned on the plan, which pays farmers above market rates for rice, but the IMF and other economists have said it is costing billions of dollars. In January, the National Anti-Corruption Commission said it was investigating the prime minister and more than a dozen other officials in the rice scheme. Those found guilty could be banned from politics for five years.
 
Escalating violence sparks military intervention
 
Thailand’s military has refused to take sides in the current standoff. Senior generals are widely believed to sympathize with royalist opponents of Pheu Thai, and the military staged a coup against a Thaksin-led government in 2006. Despite its claims of neutrality, the military’s refusal to protect government buildings from protesters has undermined the government’s authority. The army has dismissed the possibility of a coup, but if violence escalates, the military could step in.
 
Government supporters fight back
 
Despite the protests in Bangkok, the ruling Pheu Thai party remains popular in much of northern Thailand. The party’s supporters have largely heeded calls by their leaders to stay away from the anti-government protests in Bangkok because violent clashes could lead to military intervention. However, if the courts or the military moves against the caretaker government, party supporters have vowed to come off the sidelines and defend their political leaders.
 
Elections held despite protests, new government takes over
 
Prime Minister Yingluck has vowed to let the ballot box determine the country’s political future, and wants by-elections to fill the missing seats in the next six months. If authorities are able to hold polls despite ongoing protests and reach the 95 percent quorum, the government can elect a prime minister and work on consolidating power against its opponents.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: jeff from: perth australia
February 06, 2014 2:40 AM
Thais should let the demoncratic runs its own course. It has work in many countries and should work also in Thailand. All I see is the opposition being a bad loser at the expenses of its country economy. China has now withdraw it intended rice purchase. Tourism is protracting and business activities turning south. If the opposite has any brain, it should let the election runs its own course.


by: hoa minh truong from: western Australia
February 04, 2014 7:25 AM
The hidden wave of Thai's political crisis has been starting since a young sister, she had the landslide victory on July 2011 that causes the self believing of Yin Luck. But the oppositions have kept quiet and waiting for time. November 2011, Prime Minister Ying Luck used the parliament power for amnesty her brother, the disposed prime minister Thatsin, that cause the anger of people and the oppositions have the reason for protest against the government. They always want Ying Luck resigns, but she has not gave up the power, instead, she bought the time by the announcement the election day on February 2, 2014, the peasant ( red flag) harvested the havoc, and the could join the force fight against the Oppositions.

The Shinawatra family's conspiracy to keep the power as long as good, Ying Luck remains her top job until the election's result, but the oppositions boycott the election, then the result being problem, it will take few weeks, months or longer. If the oppositions take the fraudulent election to high court, that will be extended more time and Ying Luck has not lost her job.

The Thai's situation is unrest, likely an war within between two rivalries of Red and yellow flag. The situation worsens, the national economy harmed. There is only the army takes another coup as they did 18 times since 1932. That means the Shinawatra family will be wiped out forever into the Thai's political arena.
hoa minh truong (author of 3 books: the dark journey, good evening Vietnam & from laborer to author)

In Response

by: Thanawadee(Anna) from: Thailand & NZ
February 04, 2014 4:56 PM
@Nick I do understand how to come to your conclusion "If the majority take an issue with the current PM a closely monitored election should oust her with little problem" and "The whole situation stinks and it stinks like the protesters know they cannot win an election so instead they plan to undermine the will of the people for their own agenda."
I'm not going to bore you with the whole history of Thai politics and the Shinawatra family's corruption saga. It is easier for everyone to sit and read world news without realising there are many more stories left hidden and never get reported or picked up by the international media outlets. As a reader you consume pre-selected accounts of events from (so-called) journalists. The reality is another story. If it was as easy as you mentioned, Nick, all Thai would be very delighted to just turn up and vote. Yet it's, in fact, proved to be as difficult as removing Mugabe from his presidency. Needless to say more.

In Response

by: Praseut from: Thailand
February 04, 2014 11:23 AM
Thailand didn't know how suffer of war, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam has killed each other and Thailand had too happy, now it's Thailand turn. Thank you for God.

In Response

by: Nick from: Toronto, On
February 04, 2014 8:51 AM
As someone with no horse in this race. I can understand people's anger over the pardoning of certain individuals and the anger that would certainly cause. I can understand the protests. I can understand you saying that calling an election was a stall. But February 2nd has come and passed. What I don't understand is the efforts of protesters to disrupt an election. In the absence of electoral fraud, a claim that no one seems to be leveling, there really doesn't seem an excuse for this. If the majority take an issue with the current PM a closely monitored election should oust her with little problem especially considering her detractors are already worked up and on the streets. Getting them into a polling booth should be no issue.

The whole situation stinks and it stinks like the protesters know they cannot win an election so instead they plan to undermine the will of the people for their own agenda.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid