3 Feb 2014

Thai election 'unlikely' to settle crisis

7:13 am on 3 February 2014

Elections in Thailand passed off peacefully on Sunday but the country was no nearer to ending its political conflict, with the government facing the prospect of months of protests and legal challenges.

Voting was disrupted in about a fifth of the country's constituencies, but no major violence was reported, despite armed clashes between supporters and opponents of embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that wounded seven people on the eve of the ballot.

Voters in Bangkok were blocked by protest action from getting to some polling stations

Voters in Bangkok were blocked by protest action from getting to some polling stations. Photo: AFP

Voting ended at 3 pm on Sunday but Ms Yingluck will remain caretaker premier for weeks, facing continued anti-government protests and the prospect of a legal challenges aimed at invalidating the poll.

Further voting is already scheduled for 23 February after problems with advance balloting last Sunday, while polls in nine southern provinces where candidates were unable to register may not happen for weeks.

Thailand's electoral commission said voting was disrupted in 69 of 375 constituencies nationwide, affecting 18 of 77 provinces, where demonstrators calling for an appointed government succeeded in sabotaging the vote.

With the main opposition Democrat Party boycotting the poll, Ms Yingluck's Puea Thai Party is expected to win comfortably.

Even if Ms Yingluck wins a fresh mandate, analysts say opposition against her remains entrenched and continued stalemate is almost certain. The prime minister said she hoped the various camps could find a way to break the deadlock.

Anti-government protesters accuse the prime minister, who swept to power in the last election in 2011, of being the puppet of her brother Thaksin Shinawatra. Mr Thaksin was ousted as prime minister by the military in a 2006 coup, convicted in absentia of corruption and lives overseas.