By-elections fail to provide way out of Thai political crisis

Monday, April 24, 2006

With the Bangkok Post reporting indications that 14 unopposed candidates failed to meet the requirement of receiving votes from 20% of eligible citizens, Thailand's Constitutional court may be asked to consider breaching the constitution and convening the new parliamentary session without quorum.

The April 2 general election saw caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's populist Thai Rak Thai (lit: Thais love Thais, or Thai Unity) party win the controversial election, but a significant boycott and use of the abstention option on ballot forms forced Thaksin to announce he will not assume the post of PM in the parliament's next session. The three main opposition parties had refused to participate in the snap election leading to a significant number of constituencies where TRT stood unopposed. Over 40 candidates failed to meet the 20%-of-eligible-voters requirement forcing yesterday's by-elections.

Thailand's snap election was the PM's response to ongoing demonstrations and accusations of malfeasance, particularly in relation to his family's sale of their interest in Shin Corp, a major Thai company, to Temasek Holdings which is described by Wikipedia as "the investment arm of the Singapore government." The mass rallies that ensued, organised by the self-styled People's Alliance for Democracy, and the mainstream opposition boycott damaged the PM's attempt to use an election to renew his mandate.