Thai `Yellow Shirt` party to skip elections

PAD leaders say that the country should be governed without an election.

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2011, 00:33 AM IST

Bangkok: The political party aligned with
Thailand`s royalist "Yellow Shirt" group decided on Sunday not to
contest general elections expected in July.

New Politics Party spokesman Samran Rodpetch said a
majority of 1,000 party members attending a meeting agreed
after heated debate to support a "no-vote" campaign, a policy
advocated by leaders of the Yellow Shirts, officially known as
the People`s Alliance for Democracy.

The party would have been hard-pressed to win any
seats in the upcoming polls. It hopes the "no-vote" campaign
will prevent a clear outcome, forcing political reforms.

PAD used aggressive street demonstrations to help oust
three prime ministers in 2006 and 2008, and then formed the
New Politics Party in 2009.

Its 2006 campaign to topple then-Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra, accused of corruption and disrespect to
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, won substantial initial public
support, leading to his ouster by a military coup.

In 2008 its campaign against Thaksin allies achieved
notoriety when it occupied the prime minister`s offices for
three months and Bangkok`s two airports for a week. But its
power waned when Thaksin`s top political rival, Democrat Party
head Abhisit Vejjajiva, became prime minister later that year,
effectively depriving the group of its reason for existing.

PAD leaders have recently been saying that the country
should be governed without an election for the next four or
five years as a way of cleansing the political system, even
though Abhisit is legally bound to call polls by the end of
the year, when his coalition`s term expires.

Short of suspending polls, they have urged voters to
choose "none of the above" on ballots as a way of registering
their discontent.

Several civic groups unaffiliated with PAD have
suggest a similar no-vote campaign. But there is concern that
it could also be used to sabotage the election process.

In 2006, opposition parties led by the Democrats
boycotted elections called by Thaksin, leading to deadlocks in
several constituencies where minimum requirements for votes or
candidates were not met. Consequently, Parliament was unable
to convene, causing political instability that contributed to
Thaksin`s downfall.

The party`s decision will have to be approved by its
executive committee.