UNITED NATIONS (TRNS) – A Spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, announced that the Secretary General is “concerned that a number of Thai people were not able to exercise their right to vote”. He has said that he hopes both parties in the conflict will begin a dialogue to prevent further escalation. In addition he has condemned the protestors, saying that if the situation becomes undemocratic it will not be condoned. Although the Secretary General has voiced his opinion, involvement by the UN has yet to be seen or mentioned of.
Even after two days following Thailands disastrous Election Day, demonstrations are still being held in protest of the country’s current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The protests are due in part, because of Yingluck’s brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his alleged puppeteering of his sister’s government. Thaksin, who lives in exile of his home country fearing prison for corruption, was deposed from office in 2006 by a military coup.
Demonstrations like the ones we see in Thailand now, are reminiscent of those in countries where the citizens have been disenfranchised. Here, the problem is not who can vote, but who to vote for, as many of the citizens are saying any vote cast is one cast for a corrupt politician. In this case Thaksin’s puppet; his sister.
The Thai Election Commission released statistics that only an estimated 45.84% of voters participated in the election. But considering the protests, the voting in 69 out of 375 districts was disrupted and thus left enough districts undecided so they could not form an active parliament. The Election Commission announced that they will be holding by-elections, elections to determine the undecided seats usually used when a politician is removed from office mid-term, to decide the undecided districts. This process however, which can take up to six months, will leave Yingluck as Prime Minister until everything is sorted out.
While there will be by-elections taking place in the coming weeks and months, the protesters and the opposition Democrat Party which surprisingly boycotted the election, have problems with these newly scheduled elections. They have petitioned to the country’s Constitutional Court, arguing that the election should be invalidated because of the tremendous disruptions the protests caused to the elections.(2,4)
The side of the conflict that the democratic side supports, is that of the Prime Minister. She argues that she won her previous election by a massive majority, which she did, with 75% of the vote, and that she will not step down until the next election elects a different party to a majority. The protesters are calling for a suspension of the country’s democracy, saying that the way to move forward is to have an unelected council replace the existing government to fix the damage done by the current one.
Just days leading up to election day, Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of the protests, vowed that any protest he organized would not interfere with the voting happening that day. Yet there were several protests that delayed operations and the delivery of the ballots to the voting booths. These protests resulted in many of the elections cancelled and plunging the nation into a worse situation for the protesters.
The protesters, who are composed of the royalists, wealthy businessmen, and a minority of the country, wish for a suspension of democracy, but know they are at a loss, not comprising enough of the population to gain a majority in the country. The logic of the upperclassmen of the country is to get the average worker enraged at the government that is harming their selfish way of living, and hoping to shake things up enough until they get their way.
Although the protesters hope for another military coup to remove Yingluck, as happened in 2006 with her brother, the powerful Thai military has yet to make statements on the matter. The U.S. State Dept. is opposed to a coup, and are speaking to Thai society making clear how important it is for a democracy to be allowed to work.