Despite the efforts of the anti-government, anti-election protesters calling themselves the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), at least in English, parliamentary elections did proceed in Thailand this past Sunday. Not always smoothly, voting was carried out in almost 90% of voting districts. The bad news is that 516 polling stations did not open, usually because protesters blocked the delivery of ballots. And last month, some Southern candidates were prevented from even registering to run. As a result, there will soon be formal legal challenges regarding the election’s validity A February 23 election is already scheduled for the 440,000 voters that were blocked by protesters from early voting January 26. Meanwhile, government paralysis and motley protests continue and unpaid rice farmers are creating their own protest movement.
If she can come up with the money, it now appears that “caretaker” Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has the authority to pay the farmers.
But can she and her caretaker cabinet now approve, for example, applications for privileges under various Board of Investment programs or the budgets for state enterprises? BOI applications from foreign and Thai companies alike have been languishing since Yingluck dissolved parliament almost two months ago. I don’t know the answers and Thais and Thai media seem equally stumped. We will have to wait to so see what courts decide. Of course, the uncertainty is also hammering the economy in many other ways.