Thailand’s protest-plagued elections herald a political stalemate that risks unleashing deepening turmoil and potential judicial intervention in the polarised kingdom, experts say. Voting went ahead largely peacefully despite fears of fresh violence following pre-poll bloodshed sparked by opposition rallies aimed at preventing the re-election of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. But millions were denied the opportunity to cast ballots, with protest blockades causing the closure of some 10 percent of polling stations in an election boycotted by the main opposition party. Facing possible vote reruns in nearly a fifth of constituencies, election officials have dampened expectations of a quick result. That has raised the spectre of weeks of uncertainty in a country where military coups and court interventions have a history of reshaping the political landscape.
Without enough MPs to convene the legislature, even if Ms Yingluck wins she will remain in a caretaker role with limited power over government policy until elections are held in the problem areas.
“She will be untenable as a caretaker who doesn’t have the authority to really run the country,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, adding that Ms Yingluck would become “more vulnerable to some kind of ouster”.
“The longer Yingluck is a weakening caretaker prime minister the greater the likelihood that we will see a decision from the independent agencies to break the deadlock,” he said.