After a three-hour meeting on Tuesday between the Election Commission (EC) and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (pictured), the caretaker government has decided to press ahead with the general election scheduled for this Sunday.
The EC will reluctantly allow the elections to take place after recommending that they be held after a calming period of three or four months to avoid any escalation in violence.
A state of emergency came into effect last Wednesday, following a bloody weekend that injured dozens. The new powers allow security forces to impose curfews, restrict public assembly, movement, and information dissemination as well as to detain people without charge. This, some commentators note, may indicate an imminent crackdown on protesters. Others predict the arrest of protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, the repercussions of which would be explosive.
Protesters reject the elections, believing them an illegitimate ballot created by a corrupt government. Blockades earlier this month were successful in stopping candidates in some constituencies from registering for elections. This week anti-government protesters managed to stop early voting in 83 constituencies across the country. The EC has said that if voting in the elections is disrupted by protests it will rehold ballots in those constituencies.
The election process will be lengthy. The EC will likely have to rehold ballots in affected areas. It will also likely have to hold by-elections in some areas or, if a bid to nullify the elections is lodged and successful in the Constitutional Court, new elections will need to be held. It may take months until a new government can be sworn in.
While the elections look set to go ahead on Sunday, in the short to medium term, the deadlock will likely continue.
Photo by Flickr user Ratchaprasong 2.