The campaign is over, no more stump speeches, no more posters, no more mingling with the crowd – today, the circus moves aside for the 43 million eligible Thais to vote in the 2011 general elections. The last few weeks and months saw a hotly contested campaign trial of nearly all 40 political parties which focuses on the two biggest parties – the governing Democrat Party of prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the opposition Pheu Thai Party led by Yingluck Shinawatra.
During the day you can also follow our Siam Voices bloggers on Twitter on this list. Other good curated lists: by @newley, by @legalnomads and by @markmackinnon – more will be added throughout the day.
Voting takes place from 8.00h to 15.00h. First official results are expected around 21.00h Bangkok time (14.00 GMT).
This blog will be updated throughout the whole day, so keep refreshing!
All times are Thailand time.
0.10h That wraps up our live-blog of the Thai elections 2011! What do we learn from today’s events?
We’ll most likely get our first female prime minister; the opposition (both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary) have reasons to celebrate; the Democrat Party have gambled with their negative campaigning and ultimately lost while Yingluck has won not only because of her exiled brother, but also because of her soft approach; that being an straight-forward, angry underdog gets you somewhere and that Thai exit polls are crap and we should be careful not to be fooled by the flashy numbers…
What this election has shown is that the Thai people are sick of the political deterioration of recent years, of the meddling of re-politicized institutions that are not supposed to be politicized in the first place, but also a return of a supposedly strong man who’s supposed to help the needs of many people directly and swift, even though he’s far from being a political saint – whether or not Yingluck Shinawatra and the Pheu Thai Party are the right people for this has to be seen.
What is important now is where the new government puts its priorities first and how it handles the many crisis the country is facing – how will they tackle the rising food prices? Will they try to form reconciliation, even at the cost of justice? How free will prime minister Yingluck be of influence from outside the democratic institutions and from abroad? Ultimately: Will the will of the people be heard? Because, as a young Thai said to me earlier today outside a polling station:
“This is the last chance for democracy, if ‘they’ don’t accept it – that’s it!”
Thanks for everybody for following, re-tweeting and commenting on the live-blog and special thanks to Fergal of Asian Correspondent for the technical and editorial help! It’s been a very busy day today – at one time I was updating from the back of a motorcycle – and it was at times not easy to keep up with the stream of information. Nevertheless, I hope you were all informed and may be a little entertained of our coverage of this important day!
Good Night, Thailand!
23:45h Newer numbers and the last ones on this blog for tonight: Pheu Thai Party 264 seats, Democrat Party 160, Bhumjai Thai Party 34, Chart Thai Pattana 19, Chart Pattana Pheu Paendin 7, Phalangchong 7, Rak Prathet Thai (Chuwit) 4, Matubhum Party (Gen Sonthi) 2, Rak Santi (Purachai) 1, others 2
Also interesting are the regional wins PT vs Dem – Bangkok: 10 – 23, Central: 41 – 25, South: 0-50, North: 49 – 13, Isaan: 103 – 5, Part List votes: 61 – 44
23.24h Latest numbers: Pheu Thai Party 262 seats, Democrat Party 160, Bhumjai Thai Party 34, Chart Thai Pattana 19, Chart Pattana Pheu Paendin 9, Phalangchong 7, Rak Prathet Thai (Chuwit) 4, Rak Santi (Purachai) 1, others 2
22.50h Back at the desk. Was riding through Bangkok to my place, almost all election posters have been removed, apart from one or two left on the sidewalk – some of them will be a much sought-after collector’s item.
Meanwhile, 95 per cent of the votes are counted – so the unofficial end result will come around soon.
22.00h Projected seats via Matichon: Pheu Thai: 258, Democrat: 162, BJT: 35, CTP: 20, CPPP: 9 etc.
21:38h So, we cannot give new official count figures because the official live results page of the Election Comission has frozen since 19.18h with 81.5 per cent of the votes counted, 800,751 “Vote No” and 1,381,938 invalid ballots.
21.31h RT @ThaiElection11: “All sport heroes lost! Piyapong Piew-on, Yaowapa “Nong View” Boorapolchai, Somrak Khamsing and Khaosai Galaxy” The star status did not help them, read about the sport stars running for office here.
21.03h RT @BPbreakingnews: “BKK contest (96%) Democrat 23, Pheu Thai 10. D Constituencies 1-4, 5-10, 15, 21-33; Pheu Thai 5, 11-14, 16-20.”
20.55h Wayne Hay of Al Jazeera tweets: “Reports indicate negotiations between Thaksin’s people, the army and others will continue into the night. Many details to be worked out.” Bangkok Pundit has more background here.
19.56h As reported earlier, Yingluck confirms that she has been in talks with the Chart Thai Pattana Party to form a coalition.
19.54h Yingluck Shinwatra says that she’s not ready to announce Pheu Thai victory just yet, calls to wait for the official results.
19.48h Abhisit has answered no question. Yingluck is now on stage.
19.44h BREAKING Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has conceded, congratulates his opponent Yingluck Shinawatra!
19.40h Abhisit has come out to the press now.
19.35h Matichon poll: Pheu Thai: 254 seats, Democrat Party 163, Bhumjai Thai 35, Chart Thai Pattana 21, Chart Pattana Pheu Paendin 10, Palang Chon 7, Rak Prathet Thai 4, Rak Santi 1, Social Action Party 1
19.21h Yingluck is about to speak any minute now, reports from the Pheu Thai Party HQ are describing huge scramble, now it seems set and ready for the press conference.
Official count: Pheu Thai Party: 11,645,469, Democrat Party: 9,650,796, Bhumjai Thai: 985,527, Rak Prathet Thai: 792,468, Chart Thai Pattana: 747,554
19.07h The number of spoiled ballots is now at 1,330,277 and 771,764 have made a “Vote No”!
18.47h Still-prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is expected to speak at 19.00h, while Yingluck’s has been delayed for one hour to 20.00h.
18.23h RT @sunaibkk: “Insurgents ambushed security unit guarding ballot boxes in Narathiwat’s Srisakorn district. At least 1 officer wounded.”
18.15h Channel 3 exit poll: Pheu Thai 255, Democrat Party 164 – while noting that North-Eastern region has just counted 50 per cent, while the South has already counted 75 %
18.11h Now we’re over one million spoiled ballots!
18.08h Almost one million spoiled ballots (974,754) now – wow…!
17:57h Also interesting, according to the official Election Commission: of the almost 49 per cent counted votes so far, 467,349 have voted “No Vote” and 816,417 ballots are invalid (spoiled ballots)! VoiceTV already says over 57 per cent are counted and the voter turnout is 75 per cent.
17:50h From The Nation
Chat Pattana Puea Pandin Party was the first to congratulate the victory of Pheu Thai Party, voicing readiness to join the coalition bandwagon if invited. (…)
[The] party had no outstanding differences with Pheu Thai and stood ready to join the coalition alliance in order to fulfill campaign pledges and bring about reconciliation, he said.
“Chat Pattana Puea Pandin first to congratulate Pheu Thai“, The Nation, July 3, 2011
17.36h Meanwhile on the streets, the election posters are being collected – one wonders what will happen to them. Read our take on two these here.
17.33h It looks more and more likely that the exit polls were waaay off the potential actual result, Pheu Thai is slowly loosing it’s large lead: “ThaiPBS based on total vote counting that Puea Thai will win 256, Democrats 165, Bhum Jai Thai 34, Chart Thai Pattana 18, Chart Pattana Puea Paendin 10, Palangchong 6” (Source: Bangkok Pundit)
17.30h About 43% of the votes are counted according to VoiceTV
17.07h RT @danwaites: “Thai PBS saying Democrats leading counts in 19 of Bangkok’s 33 seats. Very different story to some of the exit polls.”
16.43h Thaksin has given another TV channel an interview on Channel 3, will have to listen into it again.
16.18h Still Thaksin, he declined to answer the anchor’s question what he regrets about his tenure as prime minister.
16.11h Thaksin jokes on ThaiPBS that he actually wanted to come back to Thailand yesterday already, says he won’t come back that quickly if it causes trouble. His sister Yinluck will definitely be prime minister.
16.06h ThaiPBS is now talking to Thaksin on the phone. Thaksin says people are fed with things staying at the same place, want reconciliation.
15.45h Meanwhile, former government coalition partner Bhumjai Thai Party is predicted to win just 13 votes, that’s apparently such a big loss that they have called off their press conference…
15.38h According to the same ABAC exit poll, the party of former massage parlor tycoon turned anti-corruption vigilante Chuwit Kalomvisit is going to get 3-4 seats! That’s a true underdog win!
15.25h Exit polls also show that in Bangkok alone Pheu Thai has won 28 seats versus just 5 for the Dems! Ouch!
15.20h Looks like a Pheu Thai landslide, they are leading big in 3 polls.
15.10h ABAC exit polls: Pheu Thai Party 299 seats, Democrat Party 132
15.00h Polls are closed now! This year, ballots will be counted at the stations itself.
14.30h Half an hour to go until the polls are closing. The first exit polls should be available right after 15.00h.
Meanwhile Bangkok Pundit quotes the EC chairman that the first results might be in before 18.00h.