Thais head to the polls for snap election
Sunday, April 2, 2006
Today sees the snap election for the lower house of Thailand's parliament. With only one of the parties with seats contesting the election it is seen more as an attempt by current caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to shore up his position in the face of mass protests and accusations of malfeasance.
The snap election was called on February 24 by the beleaguered PM, approximately one year after the previous election where his Thai Rak Thai party took 377 of the 500 seats in the lower house making it the first party to have been able to form a government without entering into a coalition.
With the main opposition parties, Democat Party (Pak Prachatipat), Great People's Party (Phak Mahachon), and Thai Nation Party (Phak Chaat Thai) boycotting the election the results may not carry the legitimacy that Thaksin is seeking. Along with the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the main opposition parties have called upon voters to mark their ballot as an abstention. With over 150 Changwats (constituencies) having a single Thai Rak Thai candidate on the ballot, some may not reach the required 20% of the eligble votes to be returned. This would leave the parliament short of its 500 seat requirement and unable to reconvene and ratify the appointment of a Prime Minister.
Allegations of corruption centre on the Prime Minister's family's involvement in the sale of Shin Corp. to Temasek Holdings, described by Wikipedia as the investment arm of the Singapore government. On January 23, the PM's family sold their 49.6% share in the company tax-free for US$1.88 billion. Whilst protests and allegations had been made prior to the sale, it was a catalyst that provoked mass rallies in Bangkok demanding the PM's resignation.
With polls opening at 8 a.m. local time (0100 UTC), the BBC reports that voting has been steady and that the PM and his children voted a couple of hours after the polls opened. Some have used the poll as an opportunity to protest, with one university lecturer arrested for completing his ballot paper in blood.
Polling closed at 3 p.m. local time (0800 UTC) with unofficial results expected later in the day.
Related news 
- "Turn up and don't vote, urge anti-Thaksin activists" — Wikinews, March 28, 2006
- "Thai police forward anti-Thaksin PAD accusations to Corruption Commission" — Wikinews, March 28, 2006
- "PAD petitions election commission for Thaksin's disqualification" — Wikinews, March 23, 2006
- "Thaksin rebuffs resignation calls while elite call for appointed PM" — Wikinews, March 6, 2006
- "Opposition may boycott Thai election; demonstrators want Thaksin out" — Wikinews, February 26, 2006
- "Thai snap-election set for April 2, 2006" — Wikinews, February 24, 2006
- "Voting for parliament winds up in Thailand" — , April 2, 2006
- Thai News Agency. "Thailand goes to the polls" — , April 2, 2006
- "Thais vote amid political crisis" — , April 2, 2006
- "A Kasem Bunthit lecturer arrested for marking ballots with blood" — , April 2, 2006
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