Monday, May 01, 2006

Letter from Thailand (2)

HUA HIN – Talk about election fatigue. I’ve only been here a month, and we’ve already had four parliamentary elections in my town. Of course, I don’t vote, but I know when an election is scheduled because the waitress at the restaurant where I eat politely tells me that I can’t order a beer with my dinner.

In Thailand they stop serving alcohol and close the bars 24 hours before the vote. I guess they want everybody sober for the polls. There has been a whole lot of temperance in Thailand this month.

April opened with the general election called by embattled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. That election was ostensibly won by his party, which goes by the colorful name of Thais Love Thais, or Thai Rak Thai (TRT).

He took it as a defeat, however, turned the office over to a caretaker and left the country on a vacation (in which he met and presumably “explained” the Thai situation to the British PM and the French president) from which he has just now returned.

In Thailand, it is possible to vote for “none of the above” . I’m not sure the exact wording in Thai but it amounts to a “no” vote. Thaksin’s party won about 16 million votes, while the “Nos” garnered about 10 million.

Now the strategy of the main opposition parties in boycotting the election begins to make more sense. In doing so they set up a situation where the TRT candidates would be running not against a party but against “No.”

Especially in Bangkok, seat of most of the opposition to the PM, the elections results were like this in district after district:

TRT 25,000
“No” 35,000

It seems to have had the desired result in shaming Thaksin into stepping down as premier. It is one thing to lose to a person or a party. But to lose to “no” is pretty direct and personal. It must have been a tremendous loss of face.

It reminded me of the New Hampshire primary in 1968. Lyndon Johnson actually won the primary, but the “Nos” in the person of Gene McCarthy scored so well that Johnson decided not to run for reelection.

However, the “No” votes don’t actually count. So, most of the TRT candidates running unopposed were certified as winners. I say most, because the Thai Constitution states that a candidate running unopposed must garner at least 20 per cent of the eligible votes to take his seat.

In the first election in early April, 38 candidates failed to meet that minimum thresh hold, setting up the present situation of by-elections.

Hua Hin, the coastal town where I live, seems to be an anti-Thaksin stronghold, and the poor TRT candidate here has run twice without gaining enough votes to win the seat, though running unopposed. It would seem that he could go on forever without garnering the required percentage.

The Thai constitution seems to establish extraordinarily strict requirement for forming a quorum. All 500 members need to be present for parliament to meet. Even the legitimacy of the 100 TRT members elected through proportional voting is in question since one of the candidates decided to become a monk instead of entering parliament.

The King, who up to now had resisted persistent calls by the anti-Thaksin coalition to appoint an interim, nonparty premier as being undemocratic, finally intervened. He called on the heads of the three highest courts to fix the “mess.”

Their first decision was to order a halt to the unending stream of by-elections. The betting is that they will find some technical glitch which would allow them to annul the April 2 election and start over.

That would set up situation for another general election, in which opposition parties, presumably would participate. So in election-weary Thailand may have to go to the polls again. Another election, another dry day in Thailand.

4 Comments:

Blogger Scott A. Edwards said...

Hello I am the traffic man, zip, zip, zip. make a new resolution to get a flood of traffic to your website this year. Let me show you how to get FREE traffic to your site. Yes I said FREE, FREE, FREE!!! Don't delay.

To find out more, visit my low cost multi level marketing site. It successfully covers FREE information exposing FREE traffic and low cost multi level marketing related stuff. Don't forget - FREE, FREE, FREE. You have nothing to lose!

May 14, 2006 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Scott A. Edwards said...

Hello I am the traffic man, zip, zip, zip. make a new resolution to get a flood of traffic to your website this year. Let me show you how to get FREE traffic to your site. Yes I said FREE, FREE, FREE!!! Don't delay.

To find out more, visit my moneymaking opportunities site. It successfully covers FREE information exposing FREE traffic and moneymaking opportunities related stuff. Don't forget - FREE, FREE, FREE. You have nothing to lose!

May 25, 2006 at 5:19 AM  
Blogger Scott A. Edwards said...

Blog your AD to Millions. Post your AD for FREE and get MASSIVE traffic to your site. FREE to join. To get started fast, Click Here: marketing global online site. It pretty much covers marketing global online related stuff and it's FREE to join.

October 22, 2006 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger Scott A. Edwards said...

Dear friends, Now you can help yourself take advantage of the huge frenzy of FREE advertising in your spare time, while in the comfort of your own home. Hook up NOW with this exiting program. Click here: FREE INFORMATION

October 23, 2006 at 2:20 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home