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Thailand’s (Non) Democrat Party Studying Legal Justifications to Invalidate Vote

Election commission officials display ballot papers to the media while counting votes at a polling station in Bangkok

Election commission officials display ballot papers to the media while counting votes at a polling station in Bangkok

 

BANGKOK – The opposition Democrat Party, which backs the protesters and boycotted the vote, said Monday it was studying other legal justifications to invalidate the vote.

Suthep said on Sunday this was being done out of safety concerns, but it could also be because their numbers are dwindling. Reuters put the number of marchers at about 3,000.

Suthep said on Sunday this was being done out of safety concerns, but it could also be because their numbers are dwindling. Reuters put the number of marchers at about 3,000.

The struggle to hold the polls was part of a 3-month-old conflict that has split the country between supporters of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and opponents who allege her government is too corrupt to rule.

The anti-government protesters who have been camped out in north Bangkok packed their tents and were marching downtown on Monday as they consolidated efforts to topple Yingluck Shinawatra, a day after a disrupted general election.

The protesters closed camps at two of the seven big intersections that Suthep’s supporters have blockaded since mid-January, at Victory Monument and Lat Phrao, and were heading for the fringes of the central oasis of Lumpini Park.

A third camp run by an allied group at a huge government administrative complex may also be closed.

Suthep said on Sunday this was being done out of safety concerns, but it could also be because their numbers are dwindling. Reuters put the number of marchers at about 3,000.

“Suthep’s movement is now crumbling, but it still has powerful unseen backers,” said Chris Baker, a historian and prominent Thailand scholar.

Suthep’s public assurance to followers that the ballot will be nullified leaves “no doubt” that the constitutional Court will end up hearing a case to annul it, and Verapat Pariyawong, an independent Harvard-educated lawyer.

Voting was disrupted in 18 percent of constituencies, 67 out of 375, the Commission said, revising data given Sunday.

It is unclear when voting will be held there and it could be weeks before parliamentary seats are filled, so Yingluck will remain a caretaker premier with no policy authority, unable to approve any new government spending.

“Having gone through more than two months of protests, the election will strengthen Yingluck’s position, but her troubles are not over yet,” said Kan Yuanyong, director of the Siam Intelligence Unit think tank.

“We’ll see a continuation of the conflict, the standoff remains and the likelihood of more violence could increase.”

The Election Commission said it expected legal challenges to be lodged as early as Monday to try to invalidate the poll and attack the legitimacy of the government

If the ballot is nullified, Verapat said there will be “more blood on the streets,” a reference to the expectation that government supporters in the north are unlikely to sit idle.

Mr Suthep may or may not achieve his objective. He is likely to be ruined either way. If he wins, and imposes a parallel government, he could well be assassinated. If he loses, he will be charged with treason, and could hang. The Democrats do not have a discernible strategy. For now, the party is along for a ride hoping that the next government will be formed by some means of selection other than a legitimate election.

 

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