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Poll boycott may result in dire consequences for Thailand's opposition

Thailand's opposition Democrat Party may be boycotting the February 2 polls, but sitting out the election could have dire consequences for the party's future.

BANGKOK: Thailand's opposition Democrat Party may be boycotting the February 2 polls, but sitting out the election could have dire consequences for the party's future.

Thai anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has called on protesters to disrupt Sunday's elections but to stop short of violating voters' rights.

The issue of voting has become a divisive one for his former party, the Democrats.

They intended to boycott the polls, gambling on their postponement but now, as the polls look extremely likely to proceed; their political futures are in jeopardy.

If Democrat MPs fail to vote on Sunday, they will be ineligible to run for office in the next election and lose their right to vote in that election as well.

In addition, under Thai law, any party that boycotts two elections in eight years is automatically able to be dissolved by the court.

The last election boycotted by the Democrats was in April 2006 -- almost eight years ago.

It is possible to ask the Election Commission for an official abstention with a valid excuse. But some Democrats say they will mark "no vote" on the ballot and in effect, participate in an election they vowed to sit out.

Urging Thais to vote "no" however, breaks election law and their own boycott.

Suthep Thaugsuban says the election results will surely be nullified but so far, he has not been accurate in his goals.

Bangkok is functioning with few setbacks and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has not resigned.

Even if top Democrats do cast their ballots on Sunday, they could find their local polling stations shut by the same anti-government protesters they side with.

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