By Ahva Sadeghi
Finally the roller-coaster of events and reactions to the elections in Bangkok, Thailand came to a closure on February 2, 2014. After months of turmoil and national tension, the elections did not heal the national divide. In fact, Thailand is now on the lookout for a coup to arise at any moment.
Hundreds of polls in the capital city of Bangkok were shut down by anti-government protestors revealing the elections in Thailand were far from civil. Voters literally had to risk their lives and endure severe threats of violence in order to cast their ballot in the nationwide elections. The protestors canceled election in nine of the seventy-six provinces in all of Thailand and four of the fifty districts in Bangkok were shut down. The voters stripped of their right to vote were angered and pounded on the gates a of district office in Bangkok demanding to cast their ballot. Even famous politicians were unable to vote! At this very same site, anti-government protestors obstructed officials from distributing ballots to the surrounding polls.
This political stress is not a new sensation for the political atmosphere of Thailand. Dating back to the 1930s, Thailand has carried out twelve effective coups and eleven failed attempts. This issue is constantly being replayed in Thailand’s history and has yet to be resolved. In 2006, the army overthrew its Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Yet, the very next year the pro-Thaksin People Power Party successfully wins the election to place power back into different hands. There is a constant present of tug-of-war for power between these two. In 2008, the “Yellow Shirts”, Anti-Thaksin protestors, organized demonstrations for a period of months. They were even successful at paralyzing the airports! The pro-Thaksin, also known as the “Red Shirt”, responded with large protests killing dozens in 2010. Then in 2011, the sister of Thaksin, Yingluck Shinawatra won the election of prime minister. She requested elections take place after the massive protests by the anti-government protestors in 2013. Finally, we are at our current state with Protestors camping out in Bangkok to shut down the city. This demonstrations and protests are proclaimed as the “people’s coup” movement. It has diminished from 200,000 protesters to less than 10,000. However, on Sunday, the movement disrupted a national election by nabbing ballot boxes and mobbing polling stations.
Even though there was major protests and demonstrations prevalent during the campaign, most of the polling stations were still open. The protestors were not successful at preventing the whole election. The police force and soldiers were present at the polls in order to facilitate a peaceful voting process. However, no force was necessary to maintain order. In reality, Thailand’s Election Commission on national television said 89% of the country’s 93,000 polls were open and active to receive ballots for the election. Thailand hopes to remedy this internal conflict and avoid massive demonstration with the loss of lives.
This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.