Less than 50 percent of Thailand’s 45 million eligible voters turned out to vote in Sunday’s controversial general election, Election Commission sources said Monday. The low turnout was partly blamed on antigovernment protesters who urged people not cast their ballots, blocked distribution of ballot boxes and papers, and occupied district offices, preventing many polling stations from opening. Another likely reason was that the election was boycotted by the main opposition Democrat Party. Nine of 77 provinces across the country, especially the south, decided to cancel the voting due to the lack of ballot boxes and papers, depriving millions of their right to vote in the election. In total, voting in 69 of 375 constituencies around the country could not take place due to interference by protesters, according to the Election Commission.
Announcement of the official results of the election have been delayed by the voting difficulties.
Labor Minister Chalerm Ubumrung, who is in charge of dealing with the protests, said the government is ready to support the Election Commission in holding by-elections, which can only be held within three weeks of a general election.
The government also vowed to arrest the protest leaders, including former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who has been leading daily antigovernment rallies.