Thailand has held elections in five provinces where voting was disrupted in last month’s poll by anti-government protesters trying to unseat Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. There were no reports of violence at Sunday’s vote, although gunfire and at least two explosions have raised tension in Bangkok before the Feb 2 polls. Election re-runs planned for April in other provinces have been suspended pending a court decision on procedures. Voting was disrupted in 18 per cent of constituencies, 69 out of 375 nationwide, the Election Commission said, affecting 18 of 77 provinces. The demonstrators, who have blocked intersections in the capital for weeks, say Prime Minister Yingluck must resign and make way for an appointed “people’s council” to overhaul a political system they say has been taken hostage by her billionaire brother and former premier, Thaksin Shinawatra.
The election is almost certain to return Ms Yingluck to power, thanks to her support base in the largely rural north and northeast, a result the opposition will never accept.
The result cannot change the dysfunctional status quo in a country popular among tourists and investors yet blighted by eight years of polarisation and turmoil, pitting the Bangkok-based middle class and royalist establishment against the mostly poor, rural supporters of the Shinawatra family.