02/03/2014, 00.00
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Elections in Thailand: the pros and cons of a vote that does not solve the political crisis

The election took place peacefully and there were no serious accidents. Polling high in majority of seats, supplementary rounds still needed. Polls closed in nine provinces for the opposition boycott. AsiaNews sources: tension remains high between the two sides, but atmosphere is calmer.

Bangkok ( AsiaNews) - Two key factors have emerged from the general elections held yesterday in Thailand - boycotted by the main opposition party in protest against the Shinawatra government: the voting took place peacefully and there were no accidents or violence (a polling station in the photo). At the same time, it does little to help the short-term outlook in the country: it will take several weeks and additional rounds to collect the votes in all electoral districts . According to unofficial data published today by the Electoral Commission , the vote yesterday was attended by 45.8 % of those eligible, out of a total of 44,649,742 voters 20,468,646 people went to the polls. In spite of the fears ahead of the vote, almost 89 % of polling stations operated on a regular basis. The landslide victory of the ruling party led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is almost certain, even if the shadow of illegality and unconstitutionality leave the nation in a political limbo.

The data on voters does not include those who live in the nine provinces where a "Yellow Shirts" boycott prevented voting: Songkhla , Trang , Phatthalung , Phuket , Surat Thani , Ranong , Krabi, Chumphon and Phangnga . The boycott prevented millions of people from casting their ballot and made the second round of voting necessary, scheduled in the coming weeks, with varying dates depending on the province. The new parliament will in fact only meet when at least 95 % of the seats are assigned.

The real risk is that the vote will be declared invalid, while the two sides - government and opposition - study their moves to overcome the impasse and to provide a change of course in a nation that is likely to see both the economy and the prospects for development scuppered. Today anti-government protesters marched in procession to the north of the capital, towards the center , boosting demand for the resignation of Shinawatra . In contrast, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of yesterday's vote , a sign that the "people are eager to continue the democratic process."

A source for AsiaNews in Bangkok speaking on condition of anonymity reported that while there were marginal risks, the elections "were held on a regular basis".  Now "we will need at least three or four months before the electoral process is concluded", a situation that does not contribute to "unraveling the tension between the two sides, even if the atmosphere seems more serene". The executive, adds the source, wants to promote a "democratic" Thailand, that can not be suffocated by protests and is able to maintain control of the situation. A key element, given that in recent days several embassies have issued warnings advising against travel to the Thai capital .

On the other hand, the opposition is doing all in its power to achieve its goal of the resignation of the executive office and the formation of a People's Council called upon to promote reform. New corruption charges could soon be leveled against the prime minister for (suspect) loans to rice producers and the overvaluation of the cereal in the recent past, allegations that could involve other cabinet ministers .

In a still uncertain context, said AsiaNews source concludes, there is the growing desire "among the people, particularly young people , to participate actively in political life" marked by "a sense of responsibility that has so far prevented an escalation of violence". These are important factors that "one day will help in rewriting the Constitution, analyzing and overcoming the current regulatory. Certainly the next Constitution will have to be more robust , capable of ensuring a new balance between the powers of the judiciary, executive, legislature and the influence of the military . "


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