Live blog: February 2014 elections in Thailand
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Live blog: February 2014 elections in Thailand

17:45:  Thai Rath quotes EC Director for Chiang Rai as saying that turn-out was about 60%

16:40: Noppatjak, a reporter with The Nation Group, tweets that asked Akanat (step-son of Suthep and spokesperson for PDRC) and he affirmed that none of the PDRC leaders voted today.

Thai Rath reports that Buriram Governor predicts only 50% turn-out in Buriram.

BP: EC gave a statement before and only useful information was voting completely disrupted in 9 provinces; partially disrupted in 9 provinces. Also, 83,183 out of 93,952 polling units or 89.2% were open.

16:00: Proficient tweeter and blogger Richard Barrow:

BP: Although, we will have to see the “vote no”.

Thai Rath journalist tweets:

BP: That the counting of polling unit 33, constituency 9 in Bangkok (Jatujak), there were 593 people with right to vote, 135 exercised their vote with 67 going for Puea Thai, “Vote No” getting 48, Other parties 8, and spoilt/invalid votes 12. Total turnout 22.75%.

Veena of The Nation tweets:

BP: This number being disrupted is higher than BP expected. Very difficult to see turn-out above 50%, but we await Central, North, and the Northeast results.

15:45: We are still waiting until 4pm before we get any news about the turn-out. We won’t get official vote counts at all until the advance voting happens on February 23, but this is the the theory. The reality is that we will get leaked snippets of information gradually throughout the night.

AFP journalist at Dusit with vote counting about to start before:

AP journalist:

BP:  Well Suthep has largely succeeded the disruption in many parts of Bangkok and most of the South and it is inevitable that parliament will not be able to meet the 95% threshold to convene anytime soon and possibly won’t be able to at all. The end result will be new elections and then we start this all over again unless we get a negotiated outcome.

15:30: BBC:

There has been little campaigning for the election and it was unclear how many Thais had turned out.

Voting in 13 of Bangkok’s 33 constituencies, and in 37 of 56 constituencies in the south was disrupted.

Thai Rath:

BP: Thai Rath tweets says that in 12 districts, 510 polling units were not able to open.

AP:

Protesters trying to derail Thailand’s national elections forced the closure of hundreds of polling stations in a highly contentious vote that has become the latest flashpoint in the country’s deepening political crisis.

Around the country, the vast majority of voting stations were open and polling proceeded relatively peacefully, but the risk of violence remained high a day after gun battles in Bangkok left seven people wounded.

The national focus was riveted to the capital where 488 of the capital’s 6,600 polling stations were shut and several skirmishes broke out between protesters intent on disrupting the vote and frustrated would-be voters.

In some cases, protesters formed blockades to prevent voters from entering polling stations. Elsewhere, protesters blocked the delivery of ballots and other election materials, preventing voting stations from opening. The Election Commission said that hundreds of polling stations in the south, an opposition stronghold, faced similar problems.

Whatever happens in Sunday’s vote, the outcome will almost certainly be inconclusive. Because protesters blocked candidate registration in some districts, parliament will not have enough members to convene. That means beleaguered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will be unable to form a government or even pass a budget, and Thailand will be stuck in political limbo for months as by-elections are run in constituencies that were unable to vote.

Fears of violence were high after an hour-long gun fight Saturday erupted at a busy Bangkok intersection between government supporters and protesters trying to block delivery of ballots. Among the injured was reporter for the local Daily News newspaper and American photojournalist, James Nachtwey, who was grazed by a bullet in the leg.

The exchange of fire was the latest flare-up in a monthslong campaign by protesters to overthrow Yingluck’s government, which they accuse of corruption. The violence crystallized the power struggle that has devolved into a battle of wills between the government and protesters — and those caught between who insist on their right to vote.

Under heavy police security, Yingluck cast her vote at a polling station in northeastern Bangkok, cheered on by supporters.

“Today is an important day,” Yingluck told reporters. “I would like to invite Thai people to come out and vote to uphold democracy.”

Voting was not as easy in other parts of Bangkok.

At one of the more volatile districts of the capital, voters in Din Daeng scuffled with protesters and hurled bottles at each other under heavy police security. An Associated Press reporter saw a protester fire a gunshot after angry voters tried to push their way past a blockade. There were no injuries reported.

Dozens of voters demanding their right to vote broke into the Din Daeng district office, which was unable to distribute ballots to the neighborhood’s voting stations.

“We want an election. We are Thais,” said Narong Meephol, a 63-year-old Bangkok resident, waving his identification card. “We are here to exercise our rights.”

Elsewhere, one of Thailand’s more colorful politicians Chuwit Kamolvisit, an independent candidate, got into a punching, knock-down brawl with a group of protesters.

“They tried to attack me while I was trying to go vote,” said Chuwit, a tycoon who made a fortune operating massage parlors before turning to politics as an anti-corruption campaigner.

The conflict pits demonstrators who say they want to suspend the country’s fragile democracy to institute anti-corruption reforms against Yingluck’s supporters who know the election will not solve the nation’s crisis but insist the right to vote should not be taken away.

The protesters, a minority that cannot win power at the polls, are demanding the government be replaced by an unelected council that would rewrite political and electoral laws to combat deep-seated problems of corruption and money politics. Yingluck has refused to step down, arguing she is open to reform and that such a council would be unconstitutional.

Since protests began three months ago, at least 10 people have been killed and nearly 600 wounded.

The political standoff in the streets meant the campaign, at least in the capital, was done without the usual billboards, posters and sound trucks, with the pre-election buzz focused on violence instead of policies.

“How did we get to this point?” asked Chanida Pakdeebanchasak, a 28-year-old Bangkok resident who was determined to cast her ballot Sunday no matter what happens.

BP: Indeed, how did we get to this point…

13:30: From the Bangkok Post:

From  reporter from the Nation Channel:

BP: The above tweet states that for Bangkok that 488 out of 6246 polling units in Bangkok have been closed.

13:00 On caretaker Transport Minister Chatchart Sitthipan voting:

BP: Chatchart’s down-to-earth style of taking public transport to see the conditions and his walking barefooted in a temple dressed very casually spread memes wide and far. He is an MIT graduate and good public speaker. The managing of his image certainly suggests he is being groomed for higher office. BP would not be surprised if he was PM within the next 2 years….

12:50: ThaiPBS talking to voters in Khon Kaen who said they wanted to use their right to vote; reports steady number of voting in Sri Saket; also showed video of shot UDD leader Kwanchai being transported by ambulance to vote….

Photo of Kwanchai going to vote:

12:35: ThaiPBS reporter at main PDRC stage states the PDRC won’t be moving around the city today. They have set up their own voting booths where PDRC voters can express their opinions about the government and put in the box and the best ones will be read on stage later.

The Bangkok Post:

Despite this, Election Commission (EC) secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said 333 out of 375 constituencies in other parts of the country were able to commence voting.

Mr Puchong said the polling units that were unable to open were mostly in the nine southern provinces.

In Bangkok, protesters surrounded polling stations in Lak Si, Ratchathewi, Din Daeng, Bung Kum and Bang Kapi districts.

There have been no problems with voting in northern and northeastern provinces, he added.

BP: ThaiPBS report from the South on PDRC supporter being restrained after attacking those trying to vote.

Bangkok Governor not happy that he has to vote otherwise he would be disqualified from his position:

BKK Governor @Sukhumbhandp posted on FB his heart was with people who won’t vote. He was “tortured” he had to vote. pic.twitter.com/463qBHvM1g

— แก้วมาลา Kaewmala (@Thai_Talk) February 2, 2014

BP: Perhaps, he should resign if he feels so bad about voting…

12:30: Seen video from ThaiPBS of a few Ministers voting including Chalerm (who of course gave his thoughts about Suthep and the protests to the media) Kittirat etc. Yingluck first voted t his morning. Chuwit got attacked.

ThaiPBS at Din Daeng on voting being disrupted by PDRC supporters (they look like nak leng) with pushing and shoving. Then those who want to vote filing a police report about their inability to vote after voting was not able to take place in Din Daeng.

Photo from Jack, who is a photojournalist:

First, will be live-blogging news from the afternoon. Saksith has done a good job of what transpired this morning by picking and sorting through the relevant news in his blog here so see no point in trying to replicate that. Also, see blog post from this morning predicting the electoral outcome.