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As Political Crisis Deepens, Thailand to Hold Another Election in July

Anti-government protesters gather at a rally showing their loyalty to King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Protesters are demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister. Photo by Sanji Dee, Copyright @Demotix (5/5/2014)

Anti-government protesters gather at a rally showing their loyalty to King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Protesters are demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister. Photo by Sanji Dee, Copyright @Demotix (5/5/2014)

Not long after the anti-election protest movement, led by the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), heralded their victory over the annulment of the February election in Thailand, a new date has been set for a second voting day this year on July 20. The beleaguered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra seemed elated that she could perhaps hang on to power for a little longer, despite facing two serious corruption charges.

The court will decide on these charges tomorrow, May 7, 2014, and Yingluck could be removed from power if found guilty.

Are Thais excited to be going to the polls for the second time within the span of less than six months?

Polls after polls have shown Thai voters to be “worried” and “wary” about the upcoming new election. Most believe that the election would unlikely solve the near decade-long political conflict that has dragged Thailand through 6 prime ministers, 5 governments, 3 elections and 1 coup d'etat. Further, a new election could cost 3.8 billion baht ($127 million) which would be another burden for taxpayers – some of whom are supporters of the PDRC and are likely to boycott the election altogether. This would be a waste of money, time, resources and headache for everyone if another annulment is to occur.

The opposition boycotted the February polls claiming that the electoral process would not be fair and clean as long as the Prime Minister's family is allowed to participate in it. The election was held in response to the massive street protests organized by the opposition for more than three months.

Conversations in the Thai cyberspace seems to suggest a rather gloomy sentiment among its voters:

Chaichol MCFC wrote on Pantip web board:

I don't think there will be an election. Not because of the government, but because of Taug [Suthep] and his associates. He said he would reform the country for the past 6 months, yet he did nothing but begging on the streets [for money] and wreaking havoc.

Comment 1204962 thinks that perhaps another coup is needed:

We already had a house dissolution and the power had been returned to the people. What else could we have done [ to solve the crisis]. Just have another military coup, please.

Supporters of the PDRC event went further by asking the people to sabotage the election.

On Suthep's – leader of the PDRC – Facebook page, thousands of comments poured in (mostly) to support no “Reform before Election” campaign. Max Chakrit wrote:

Majority rule doesn't work in Thailand because the voices of the majority come from those with little education (but in other countries, majority rule is fine). This is why Thai people are easily manipulated….

Porn Pramualsap also commented:

Whoever runs the country, it doesn't matter, as long as they don't cheat on the farmers.

The next few weeks are crucial whether the election would go ahead as planned. Two major stumbling blocks include whether Yingluck would survive the two charges laid on her; and the other would be whether the candidate registration day, set for May 25, would be carried out smoothly. The extent to which the registration would be held successfully should be indicative of the likelihood of the election taking place.

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