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Asean Affairs   27 June  2011

Bangkok polls get off to a flying start

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     27 June 2011

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The general election in Thailand got off to a resounding start in Thailand as the first wave of advance voting went smoothly in Bangkok.

Advance voting allows voters to cast their ballots outside the home districts in which they are registered. This applies mainly to Thais working and residing in Bangkok but whose home is legally in the provinces.

Of the 47 million eligible voters, 2.6 million registered for advance voting. In Bangkok, the city clerk said unofficial figures showed that 1,079,923 people registered to vote in advance outside their home provinces in Bangkok. Of these, 631,513 (58.48 percent) turned out.

Bangkok media reported that some voters could not find their name on the lists, meaning that their name was held up in a provincial office but no violence was reported and large numbers of voters turned out in the Bangkok district of Bang Kapi.

This turnout is in line with the projections, guesses and hunches that the final turnout will be around 60 percent in this election that has captured widespread national and international attention. However, some observers expect more than the 74.4 percent recorded in the 2007 polls.

Today, Democrat Party leader and incumbent Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva urged the Election Commission to explain to the public mishaps that happened during the advance voting on Sunday. He said he heard there were obstacles when voters wanted to cast their vote in advance and the problems varied at each location.

Also, the PM was interviewed by the BBC and said that a victory by the Pheu Thai would bring back former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who now resides in Dubai to escape a two-year prison sentence handed out to him on corruption charges.

Probably the majority of voters, those in North and Northeast Thailand would welcome that, while the influential, so-called elite, centered in Bangkok, would not. This is the political division that has divided the country since the coup of 2006.

Investors have fled the Stock Exchange of Thailand in the last month because of concerns about political instability. That is why this election is being considered a significant one in Thai history.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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