Thai Elections April 2006

Dueling Headlines:

TRT Party to accept court's ruling on April 2 general election - TNA, April 27, 2006
The ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) Party vows to accept any court verdict on the April 2 general election, in which the party's candidates filled uncontestedly in most constituencies across the country.
TRT Party deputy leader Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan affirmed on Wednesday that the party would accept and follow any court verdict--even a ruling that the April 2 snap election be nullified.
"We respect the laws and democratic rules; so, we'll accept any court ruling without any condition--even the court will rule that the April 2 general election must be nullified," she told journalists...

Thai Rak Thai MPs not accept any ruling against election: Somsak - The Nation, May 1, 2006
Thai Rak Thai Party MP Somsak Thepsuthin said his party MPs would not accept any court ruling, which may be made to nullify the election.
Somsak said Thai Rak Thai MPs see that the reasons cited to ask the Constitution Court to nullify the April 2 election were too weak.
"The MPs are considering to find a channel to fight. Thai Rak Thai MPs will not allow the cited reasons to be used to set a precedence," Somsak said.

King halts Thailand's troubles - The Observer, April 30, 2006
Ruler steps in to end months of stalemate and street fighting...
It was until recently illegal to question his judgment...
Thai Rak Thai had argued that the constitution should be ignored and parliament should meet anyway...
Meanwhile, the judges who had the power to decide appeared frozen into inaction through fear....

Thaksin return to office possible: close aide - TNA, April 30, 2006
..."Everything is possible. He has the constitutional right just as others to seek re-election. No one can bar him to join the race," the acting premier said.
..."It's not right to call for any particular person to temporarily stay out of politics," General Chidchai said. "If the courts rule that the new election must be held, everything will go back to square one. Earlier political conditions do not exist anymore."...

Thaksin can return as prime minister: Chidchai - The Nation, April 30, 2006 ADVISORY - Thai court ruling story withdrawn -- Reuters, April 29, 2006

Earlier: Thai court says April 2 election possibly illegal - Reuters, April 28, 2006

Here come the judges- Chang Noi, April 29, 2006
...We have seen the consequences in the Election Commission’s conduct of the recent poll. It destroyed the principle of the secret ballot, connived in wholesale fraud over candidacies, handed down rulings that effectively legitimised vote-buying and repeatedly broke its own rules and regulations. In the service of the executive, this
body has undermined all the principles for which an independent commission was created...


Thai court suspends new by-elections - AFP, April 28, 2006

Court ruling welcomed by all - The Nation, April 29, 2006

TRT may be courting disaster - The Nation, April 29, 2006
...Imagine a fresh election battle centred round a vote-me-back-into-office theme. Could Thailand withstand something like that in the next couple of months? Should the Kingdom, during this most auspicious period for its beloved monarch, make a decision about this potentially explosive issue while everyone is still reeling from the turmoil it has already caused?...


Decision day - April 28, 2006
Today is a day of decision - with the King's blessing, judges will rule on the legitimacy of the elections held this month. The opposition expects them to be overturned and has made clear it will run in new elections. Potential coalitions are being formulated with Banharn allegedly meeting with Thaksin in Hong Kong. Thaksin is rumored to be considering entering politics again right away instead of waiting a year as promised. And it is Friday, the traditional time when controversial decisions are made (the weekend gives business and people time to cool off before reacting). By late afternoon some word should come...

Judges feel poll not legitimate - Bangkok Post, April 28, 2006
... The elections were deemed to lack legitimacy from the beginning with the House of Representatives being dissolved for political reasons, the source said. The polls were organised in haste and the electoral process was flawed with ballot booths rearranged in a way that cost the voters their privacy.
... Mr Pan said that no complaints had been lodged with the Constitution Court seeking to revoke the April 2 polls. His court's recommendations to ease the crisis were non-confrontational and would hopefully comply with people's wishes, he added.
Judges divided at 11th hour - The Nation, April 28, 2006
...Leaked reports suggest Phan Chantarapan, the acting Constitution Court president, is inclined to convene the new Parliament as the unfilled seats will not impair the legislative work.
Phan has also apparently expressed concerns that a power vacuum might result if a new government is not formed within the 30-day deadline.
It has been predicted that today he will try to convince Chanchai Likhitjittha and Akaratorn Chularat, the presidents of the Supreme and Supreme Administrative courts, to rule in favour of opening the House...
Will EC go after 'the big party'? - Thai Rath editorial in Bangkok Post, April 28, 2006
The 'big party' is, of course, Thai Rak Thai.
...We hope the EC will take action against the big party that allegedly hired the small parties to run on April 2. If the two small parties are dissolved, the big party must also meet the same punishment...


Nine members of tiny parties win ballots - The Nation, April 25, 2006
...Abdulkadir Jeh-useng, Narathiwat's Constituency 1, the Khonkhoplodnee Party (People's Party for Debt Forgiveness)...
Sopon Suapan, Krabi's Constituency 2, the Palang Dharma Party...
Pleung Buasri, Phatthalung's Constituency 3, the Khonkhoplodnee Party...
As one of the three advisers for the Farmers' Debt Network of Thailand, Pleung led farmers to protest against the government about their debts 63 times over the past six years. "That was how people came to know about me, as I always fight for the poor."
Pornjanat Srirattananun, Phetchaburi's Constituency 1, the Khonkhoplodnee Party.
Pornjanat was in the spotlight after defeating Thai Rak Thai's Rajasak Klaiklueng - a friend of Thaksin's son Panthongtae - by nearly 7,000 votes...


Chalerm announces comeback - Bangkok Post, April 24, 2006
Controversial politician Chalerm Yubamrung has announced his political comeback with the New Alternative party, which claims to have a policy platform 90% different from that of the ruling Thai Rak Thai party.
Pol Capt Chalerm said the Election Commission approved the registration of the New Alternative party on April 18. The party has changed its name from the Muan Chon party, of which he was the former leader...
Senate headline - Komchadluek, April 22, 2006

The headline (left) reads: Opposing Samak to sit for Senate Speaker - Klanarong to lead a boycott of the representatives of Thaksin (in the senate)

The bottom pokes fun at relatives of politicians who were elected to the supposedly nonpolitical senate. In the heart is Mrs. Salakjit Tiyapairat, senator from Chaing Rai and wife of Yongyuth Tiyapairath, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment.
Thaksin’s Magical Mystery Tour - The Irrawaddy, April 24, 2006
While saying he is now “unemployed,” and widely assumed to have resigned, Thailand’s wily caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has embarked on a world tour, and may meet top leaders...

"People who love Songkhla"- April 22, 2006
Asiper reports: Here (left) is a leaflet from "People who love Songkhla" to persuade people to wear black and vote for "no vote" in further elections of MPs under the Thaksin regime.
Songkhla will have a re-election for 7 zone because the TRT party is the only party and it did not get 20% of the vote. TRT is trying to find a competitor and find ways for the nominee parties to stand, but this is objected to by many Songkhla people and alliance groups that are independents.
The group is going from neighborhood to neighborhood in Songkhla protesting and informing residents.

[The "X" represents the traditional place at the top right of ballots to record a vote for no candidate. In the April 2, 2006 elections, however, the placement of the "X" was inexplicably moved to the bottom of the ballot and the TRT space was at the top leading many to speculate that confused voters, wishing to vote for "no vote," would choose TRT instead.]

Tourism Authority of Thailand - Life returns to normal in Thailand - Travel Daily News, April 19, 2006
Life has returned to normal in Thailand following the decision by Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra not to take the premiership in the next government. The streets of Bangkok are bustling with traffic as usual as anti-government political demonstrators have returned home to await the next developments.
Travel industry executives have heaved a sigh of relief, stressing that Thailand's vibrant democracy has again proved triumphant, allowing the Thai people to express their opposition peacefully...


Such a strange election - Chang Noi, April 17, 2006
...When the television channels started their election coverage early next day, there were some surprising features. None of the free-to-air channels made any attempt to add up the constituency-by-constituency returns to give estimates of the regional or national patterns. No returns from the party list were reported at all. The ECT's website was designed to hide the information on the no-vote and spoilt ballots.
Later in the day, it was announced that Thaksin would appear on television that evening. The TV channels reporting of the election tailed off. Channel 11 stopped displaying the results and showed monks chanting in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
That evening, Thaksin claimed victory with 16.2 million votes on the party list. He said the data came from the Interior Ministry which was strange as that ministry is not involved in running the election. The 16.2 million figure is 60 percent of valid votes cast. By coincidence the equivalent figure at the 2005 poll was almost exactly the same. The ECT has since adjusted the figure even higher to 16.4 million.
Such a strange election.


I will not accept post of premier in the next government : Thaksin - The Nation, April 4, 2006
Thai premier to take "political break" - Reuters, April 4, 2006
*****PM announces suspending political role****** - TNA, April 4, 2006
Thaksin sues 'The Nation' for misleading report - TNA, April 4, 2006
* As many readers have noted, Thaksin has not resigned, but has pledged not to be PM in the next government.
* From the Bangkok Post website, April 4, 2006: The headline is "Thaksin: Why should I resign?" and directly to the right is a breaking news article entitled "THAKSIN RESIGNS."


Thaksin's party gets all 36 seats of Bangkok constituencies - Xinhua, April 3, 2006
[Xinhua had an odd take on the Bangkok voting results.]
According to the latest results of ballots issued on Monday, the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) Party led by caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has got all the 36 seats in Bangkok constituencies. But doubt follows as TRT received fewer votes than abstentions in 28 out of 36 constituencies.
The latest figure released by the Election Committee showed that TRT candidates in Bangkok's 36 constituencies has got 1,234,522 votes, or a 46.9 percent of all the 2,631,200 voters, while the votes of "No vote" raise to 1,319,206, or a proportion of 50.1 percent.
The vote counts showed that the TRT received fewer votes than abstentions in 28 out of 36 constituencies in Bangkok.
Therefore, some analysts doubted that if the higher figure of abstentions means TRT's nonsupporters are more than supporters. But in term of election law of Thailand, TRT has win all the 36 seats in Bangkok legally.
Thaksin: We have 50% - AP, April 3, 2006
Thailand's prime minister says his party has received more than 50 percent of the votes in the national election.

Thai PM claims election victory - Reuters, April 3, 2006

Thai Leader's Party Sweeps Elections - AP, April 3, 2006

PM stunned or confident?
At about the same time last night it was amusing to read these two stories online with different takes on the PM's demeanor.

'No vote' stuns pm - The Nation, April 3, 2006
Early results show Thaksin losing huge support in the capital
- Rattled leader avoids press, plans emergency meeting with senior Thai Rak Thai members this afternoon
- Ruling party insiders fear result could give new momentum to PAD

Thaksin confident of post-election calm - TNA, April 2, 2006
...Speaking to reporters at the headquarters of his TRT Party, Mr Thaksin said he would like to congratulate the Thais for coming out to exercise their right in a show of endorsement for democracy.
...Mr Thaksin declined comment on move to form the next administration, saying that one only has to wait for the outcome of the election which will represent the people's will that all sides must respect.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Above: Voting booth arrangement on April 2, 2006 with booths arranged facing out. Critics contend this allows peoples' voting choices to be seen.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Above: Voting booth arrangement for the February 6, 2005 elections with voting booths facing away from the street.

Election "not secret?" - April 3, 2006
A report from the April 2 voting: X was disturbed by the spot where you mark the ballot was positioned in such a way as to allow others to see how people vote. Nation Television (really Nation TV) reported a lot of complaints about that fact alone and speculated that it could be cause for nullifying any election results, as this would go against the Constitution. There have also been complaints from voters showing up to be told there were no pens available and that there no had been no money to buy pens, so they had to use the stamp.
X said also that the ballot itself was changed without notice. In the past, a "no vote" selection was always at the top. Now, Thai Rak Thai is at the top, and the "No Vote" is at the bottom. X said it seemed easy now for others to tell if you were marking "No Vote."

A tale of two newspapers: Booth arrangement upsets or helps? - April 3, 2006

Booth change upsets many voters - The Nation, April 2, 2006
Former prime minister Anand Panyarachun Sunday criticised the Election Commission for having set up voting booths in a way that voters could be seen how they cast their ballots.
This year, the booths are placed in a way which voters turn their back to the front of the polling station and anyone observing outside could see how voters mark their ballots. In previous elections, the booths have their back pointed inside the station so no one could see how voters cast their vote.
Anand said the booths allowed people with ill intention to see how ballots were marked which could cause trouble later.

New positioning of poll booths to help voters - TNA, April 2, 2006
Voting cubicles for today's general election have been arranged in such a way as to help prevent any electoral fraud, according to the Election Commission (EC).
EC secretary general Police Major General Ekachai Warunprapha said voters would face the wall as they marked their ballots. This would allow polling station officials to monitor any illicit activity, such as bringing ballot papers from other constituencies or taking pictures of the marked ballots.
It would also allow voters to see pictures of the candidates and their numbers.
The new measures would also be in place for the April 19 senate election to help voters, he said, especially given the high number of candidates vying for a seat...


(Photo: Dr. Has for 2Bangkok.com)
Voting in Yala - April 3, 2006

(Photo: Dr. Has for 2Bangkok.com)


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Above: An almost-bare polling station informational board. Since the major opposition parties are boycotting the election, only Thai Rak Thai and minor party candidates are on the ballot. For a normal election there would be four to eleven candidates contesting depending on the constituency.

Election day 2006 - April 2, 2006

Below: A speaker truck plays the controversial "Square Face" song at the Si Lom subway station entrance on Friday morning.


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

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