Channel NewsAsia

“No” option valid political choice in upcoming Thai election

With Sunday's election looking set to go ahead, registered Thai voters have no choice but to cast a vote or face penalties for abstaining. There is a “No” option in the ballot for voters to tick to register their vote, and in Thailand, that is a valid political choice.

BANGKOK: With Sunday's election looking set to go ahead, registered Thai voters have no choice but to cast a vote or face penalties for abstaining.

But since the main opposition Democrat Party is not participating in the snap election, anti-government protesters are being urged to vote "No".

Apart from names of parliamentary representatives, there is a “No” option in the ballot for voters to tick to register their vote.

It is like choosing "none of the above".

Voters may choose “No” because none of the candidates represent their political views, or as with the case this time, the Democrat Party is not contesting any seat.

To put things in perspective, a “No” vote may not put a party in office or vote a party out of government, but it does give an indication of the voters who are rejecting political parties or candidates.

And in Thailand, that is a valid political choice.

In the April 2006 general elections, the Democrat Party pulled the same stunt and boycotted the elections -- Thaksin Shinawatra's Thai Rak Thai party won 61 per cent of the votes then but a whopping 38 per cent of Thais voted “No”.

The election was eventually declared invalid by the constitutional court, and Mr Thaksin was later ousted in a coup.

Political analysts Channel NewsAsia spoke to agree that a substantial “No” vote means the next government does not have the mandate it needs to govern, and that it could spell further political instability.

It will be interesting to observe the “No” vote numbers on Sunday because it will very likely reflect division within the Thai society, and this time around it will be recorded officially in election results. 

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