Representatives of Thailand’s governing party slipped past a cordon of protesters Monday to register for the upcoming election, infuriating the party’s detractors, who have vowed to suspend democracy until “reforms” are carried out. In a signal that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will likely return as prime minister if the party wins another majority in the Feb. 2 elections, the governing party put her at the top of its electoral list. Ms. Yingluk has faced a month of debilitating street protests in Bangkok, and she and her brother, the billionaire tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, are the main targets of the protesters’ ire. Her selection as the party’s leading candidate is likely to inflame antigovernment sentiment. The scene around the party registration site in Bangkok on Monday seemed a microcosm of the country’s political standoff. Ms. Yingluck’s party and other, smaller parties are eager to contest the election and put a monthlong political crisis behind them. But protesters and their allies in the Democrat Party, the main opposition party, say the country must undergo reforms, largely unspecified, before any elections are held.
Although tampering with the electoral process is a criminal offense in Thailand, the protesters have largely acted with impunity. The government has said it will not use force against protesters for fear of aggravating an already tense situation.
By early Monday morning, the registration venue, a sports facility in Bangkok, was ringed by protesters who said they would block party representatives and would-be candidates for Parliament. One demonstrator held a sign that said, “If you really want to be an MP, you’ll have to climb over our heads.”
But representatives from a number of parties had slipped into the facility in the hours before dawn.