Thai general election, 2011
■ – Pheu Thai ■ – Democrat ■ – BhumjaiThai ■ – Chartthai ■ – Palung Chon ■ – no majority
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
A general election for 24th House of Representatives took place throughout Thailand on Sunday, 3 July 2011, by virtue of the Royal Decree Dissolving the House of Representatives, 2554 BE (2011), which caused the House of Representatives to be dissolved on 10 May 2011.
The protestors of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) or "Red Shirts" who occupied downtown Bangkok in April and May 2010 had demanded new elections. The government's counter-proposal to hold elections on 14 November 2010 was rejected by them and was followed by a violent crackdown when the protestors refused to disperse. Elections were finally announced in May 2011.
With a turnout of 75.03%, populist Pheu Thai Party won a majority with 265 seats. Its leader Yingluck Shinawatra became the first female prime minister in the history of Thailand. The Democrat Party therefore became the main opposition party with a total of 159 seats.
The election results were acknowledged on 27 July, after the Election Commission dealt with a great number of objections over alleged irregularities. Reelections and recount were ordered to be held in several provinces, due to electoral fraud discovered by the Commission. The first session of the National Assembly was convoked on Monday, 1 August at Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall and its state opening was held at the same time.
- 1 Background
- 2 Election date
- 3 Candidates
- 4 Election violence
- 5 Issues
- 6 Opinion polling
- 7 Abroad voting and early voting
- 8 Election result
- 9 Following process
- 10 Reactions
- 11 References
- 12 External links
After the Thai general election, 2007, the People’s Power Party won a majority of seats in the parliament and became the leading party to set up the new government. Samak Sundaravej, party leader, became the 25th Prime Minister of Thailand. This election victory led to a series of political demonstrations by the royalist Peoples Alliance for Democracy ("Yellow Shirts").
On 2 December 2008, the People’s Power Party had been dissolved by the Constitutional Court over vote buying. The PPP's executive team was banned from politics for 5 years. After the party's dissolution, all of the party's members of parliament had to join another party if they wished to retain their seat. The majority of them transferred to the newly founded Pheu Thai Party. Some representatives defected to the Democrats, which enabled the Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva to be elected by parliament as prime minister.
The National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship ("Red Shirts") was a pressure group that opposed the Thai military's alleged influence in the formation of Abhisit's government. It promptly organised several rounds of protests and calls for general elections. Abhisit government finally ordered the military to crack down on the Red Shirts in 2009, resulting in several deaths and hundreds of injuries on both sides.
The Red Shirts launched a new round of protests in mid-2010, again demanding new elections. The 14 March protest, centered around Phan Fah bridge, were the largest in Thai history and were mostly peaceful. In April and May 2010 heavy Red Shirt protests led to violent clashes and the military cracked down on the protest camp in the heart of Bangkok from 13 to 19 May 2010.
Abhisit government's had passed several major amendments on electoral laws on 11 February 2011, transforming the constituency vote from multiple-seats-per-constituency to single-seat-per-constituency, reducing the number of constituency MPs, and increasing the proportional party list MPs. In the previous general elections in 2007, the Democrat Party had lost the constituency vote but won the proportional party list vote.
On 17 February 2011 Prime Minister Abhisit announced that parliament would be dissolved by June. On 11 March 2011, it was further announced that parliament would be dissolved by the first week of May 2011.
Previously a proposal had made to hold the election on 14 November 2010, however, this was pushed back following a failure to come to agreement during the crisis.
On 9 May, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced that he would dissolve the lower house of parliament to hold an election on 3 July. King Bhumibol Adulyadej signed his approval the dissolution decree the same day. This motion followed a court ruling the same day that the recently approved electoral laws (to 2007 Constitution §§93–98 involving method of electing members of parliament) are constitutional. Had parliament been dissolved without the ruling, there would have been a possibility of challenging the election date.
This election covered 375 single-member constituencies, and 125 under proportional party lists. After registration closed, party leaders participated in a random drawing of the number determining the order in which their parties appear on ballots, numbers which are also used in nationwide campaigning. Yingluck Shinawatra received a major psychological boost when her Pheu Thai party drew the number one; sitting Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's Democrat Party drew number ten.
* Sent 125 candidates for all party-list seats
Pracha Prasopdee, ex-MP for Samut Prakan Province who had won all five of the previous elections, was shot in the back on the night of 10 May. Pracha had been a member of the Thai Rak Thai, Peoples Power, and Pheu Thai parties.
After the drawing, the Election Commission of Thailand distributed handouts nation-wide, listing all registered parties by number, name and logo; each party's list of candidates and party platform; modified for each district with campaign portraits of their candidates, again in numerical order. Local campaigners add party numbers to pre-printed campaign posters, or print new ones. In most cases, the numbers are in Red, but in the latter part of the campaign, the Democrat Party (10) changed theirs to Green.
Thaksin and the monarchy
The Democrat Party promised that with their rule all Thais would live "under the same sky" with all groups being served fairly, whereas a Pheu Thai victory would result in "mob rule" in which social division and violence would spread and some groups could stand above the law. Abhisit referred to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as a poison that had to be detoxified. The Democrats have repeatedly accused Thaksin and the Pheu Thai Party of disloyalty to King Bhumibol.
The parties Bhumjaithai and Chartthaipattana formed a pre-campaign electoral alliance pledging to support whichever party won. The parties were members of Abhisit's coalition.
Jailing of opposition leaders
Red Shirt leaders Jatuporn Prompan and Nisit Sinthuprai had been jailed for months on charges of violating national security and insulting King Bhumibol following the 2010 crackdown on the Red Shirts. They had been released on bail, but the bail was revoked immediately after Abhisit announced the 2011 elections. They were not allowed to vote in the elections.
Celebrities and political heirs
Abhisit unveiled a slate of candidates highlighted by 30 celebrities and heirs of political families, including Chitpas Bhirombhakdi, heiress of the Singha Beer fortune and former staff member of Abhisit's secretariat office. She had earlier resigned after she was caught handing out nude calendars to secretariat office staff.
The Chartthaipattana fielded four sports celebrities as candidates: former national team football player Piyapong Pue-on, tennis player Paradorn Srichapan, Olympic taekwondo bronze medallist Yaowapa Boorapolchai, and former rugby player Apirak Areemitr.
The Pheu Thai Party promised to increase the minimum wage to 300 baht per day. Abhisit had promised to raise the minimum wage to 300 baht prior to the elections, but changed his mind after pressure from employers.
For Heaven and Earth Party (political arm of the Santi Asoke Buddhist sect) supported the NO campaign of some PAD supporters, which featured proverbal animals in color-coded suits as non-human electoral candidates, most bearing the slogan: Don’t let animals enter parliament (อย่าปล่อยสัตว์เข้าสภา). Also prominent: Flee (หนี...) (blue-suited tiger) For (ปะ...) (red-suited crocodile). Chamlong Srimuang, a key supporter of the “vote-no” movement, did not vote “no” after all. In fact, he did not vote at all; his and his wife’s names were not on the list of eligible voters as they had voted in advance in the previous election but did not realise that they had to inform election officials that they did not want to do so in this one.
Results of a Suan Dusit Rajabhat University poll (4–18 June): Pheu Thai 51.55%; Democrat 34.04%; Bhum Jai Thai 3.43%; Rak Prathet Thai 2.48%; Chart Thai Pattana 1.60%; against all 1.41%; undecided 2.38%
23–28 May: Pheu Thai 43.16%; Democrat 37.45%; Bhum Jai Thai 2.64%; Chart Thai Pattana 2.46%; Rak Prathet Thai 1.43%; others 4.42%; undecided 7.08; rest would not vote – Democrats strongest in Southern Region (65.89%), Pheu Thai in Northern (73.17%)
19–22 May: Pheu Thai 41.22%; Democrat 36.88%; Bhum Jai Thai 3.88%; Chart Thai Pattana 3.20%; Rak Prathet Thai 1.59 %
Abroad voting and early voting
In this election more eligible voters turned up to vote. The number of Thais registered to vote from abroad is 147,330, the equivalent of just over half the population of Mae Hong Son Province and soared from 90,205 in 2008 – in Singapore the figure has surpassed 10,000 while in the United Kingdom the number has doubled from 2,296 to 4,775. Early voting arranged on Sunday (26 June 2011) only while prior elections arranged on Saturday and Sunday. Around 2.6 million people, including 1.07 million in Bangkok turned up to vote; however, many potential voters were unable to vote due to large crowds.
According to preliminary results Pheu Thai won 265 seats (204 constituency-based + 61 party-list), Democrats 159 (115 + 44), Bhumjai Thai 34 (29 + 5), Chartthaipattana 19 (15 + 4), Palung Chon 7 (6 + 1), Chart Pattana Puea Pandin 7 (5 + 2), Love Thailand 4 (all party-list), Matubhum 2 (1 + 1), New Democrat 1 (party-list) and Mahachon one party-list seat. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has already conceded the victory of Puea Thai Party and congratulated Ms. Shinawatra as the designated Prime Minister.
According to preliminary figures from the Electoral Commission the voter turnout was at 65.99%.
Following the provisional results, Ms. Shinawatra said that "Puea Thai had already reached an agreement with one smaller party, Chart Thai Pattana, about joining a coalition, and was in negotiations with others."
|Chart Pattana Puea Pandin||1,098,159||4.0||5||494,894||1.52||2||7||1.4%|
|None of the Above||1,419,088||4.03%||958,052||2.72%|
|Source: Election of Members of House of Representatives B.E.2554|
Constituency Preliminary Results Source: Bangkok Post live counting on day of election (links now inactive)
|Party Name||Number Votes||Percentage Votes|
|No.1 Pheu Thai||12,211,604||44.3|
|No.11 Thai Por Pieng||919||0.0|
|No.12 Rak Santi||122,968||0.4|
|No.13 Thai Pen Suk||979||0.0|
|No.14 Social Action||101,787||0.4|
|No.15 Thais Is Thai||2,317||0.0|
|No.17 Thaen Khun Phaendin||1,814||0.0|
|No.18 Heaven and Earth||12,765||0.0|
|No.19 The Farmer Network of Thailand||17,627||0.1|
|No.2 Chart Pattana Puea Pandin||1,098,159||4.0|
|No.20 New Politics||2,069||0.0|
|No.21 Chartthai pattana||1,259,595||4.6|
|No.23 Chart Samuccee||541||0.0|
|No.28 Palung Sungkom Thai||75||0.0|
|No.29 Thai party for Thai People||412||0.0|
|No.3 New Democrat||1,168||0.0|
|No.33 Civil Peace||16,650||0.1|
|No.34 New Aspiration||27,665||0.1|
|No.36 Sport party of Thailand||11,366||0.0|
|No.37 Parung ChownaThai||73||0.0|
|No.38 Thai Sangsun||31||0.0|
|No.39 Puen Kaset Thai||11,085||0.0|
|No.4 Thai Citizen||3,248||0.0|
|No.6 Palung Chon||246,031||0.9|
|No.9 Mass Power||4,582||0.0|
Acknowledgement of election result
After the election was held on 3 July, the next procedure is that the Election Commission acknowledges the election result within thirty days from the election date in order that Abhisit Vejjajaiva, Caretaker Prime Minister, would enact a royal decree convoking the House of Representatives to have the new President of the House, Vice President of the House and Prime Minister selected respectively, and the President of the House would then advice and consent the King to appoint a new Prime Minister according to the resolution of the House.
The Election Commission met to consider the election result in the afternoon of 12 July. The meeting was held until nightfall. More than fifty Red-Shirt members gathered in front of the Election Commission Office awaiting the outcome, with strict control of the police officers. That night, three hundred and fifty candidates were acknowledged by the Election Commission as the members of the House, but not including Yingluck Shinawatra, Abhisit Vejjajiva and Nattawut Saikua by cause of a great number of objections pending consideration. The remainders, that is, one hundred and forty two elected candidates, are to be acknowledged by 20 July, said the Election Commission. Yingluck described the postponement as part of a "normal process" for the Commission.
On 19 July, both Yingluck and Abhisit were acknowledged as the members of the House. On 27 July, the acknowledgement extended to further ninety four elected candidates. Now and eventually, the number acknowledged sufficed to constitute the House. This, however, did not include Jatuporn Prompan whom the Election Commission declared to have lost the suffrage due to failure to vote in both the previous and the present elections. The Constitution requires that a member of the House must possess the suffrage, and also prescribes that a person failing to vote in an election loses the suffrage but regains it once he votes in the next election.
The Election Commission's announcements of the acknowledgement were published in the Government Gazette as follows:
|#||Announcements||Number of candidates acknowledged||Date of acknowledgement||Published in|
|1||Announcement of the Election Commission,
Re: Results of election of members of the House of Representatives on proportional basis, dated 12 July 2011
|109||12 July 2011||Government Gazette:
volume 128/part 58 A/page 6/21 July 2011
|2||Announcement of the Election Commission,
Re: Results of election of members of the House of Representatives on proportional basis (2nd group), dated 19 July 2011
|2||19 July 2011||Government Gazette:
volume 128/part 59 A/page 6/27 July 2011
|3||Announcement of the Election Commission,
Re: Results of election of members of the House of Representatives on proportional basis (3rd group), dated 21 July 2011
|6||21 July 2011||Government Gazette:
volume 128/part 59 A/page 11/27 July 2011
|4||Announcement of the Election Commission,
Re: Results of election of members of the House of Representatives on proportional basis (4th group), dated 27 July 2011
|7||27 July 2011||Government Gazette:
volume 128/part 60 A/page 10/28 July 2011
|5||Announcement of the Election Commission,
Re: Results of election of members of the House of Representatives on constituency basis, dated 12 July 2011
|249||12 July 2011||Government Gazette:
volume 128/part 58 A/page 11/21 July 2011
|6||Announcement of the Election Commission,
Re: Results of election of members of the House of Representatives on constituency basis (2nd group), dated 19 July 2011
|10||19 July 2011||Government Gazette:
volume 128/part 59 A/page 4/27 July 2011
|7||Announcement of the Election Commission,
Re: Results of election of members of the House of Representatives on constituency basis (3rd group), dated 21 July 2011
|26||21 July 2011||Government Gazette:
volume 128/part 59 A/page 7/27 July 2011
|8||Announcement of the Election Commission,
Re: Results of election of members of the House of Representatives on constituency basis (4th group), dated 27 July 2011
|87||27 July 2011||Government Gazette:
volume 128/part 60 A/page 11/28 July 2011
Five red cards were expected during balloting in Sukhothai Province, Chaiyaphum Province, Maha Sarakham Province, Sisaket Province and Buriram Province in reference to campaign fraud. There have been allegations of massive electoral fraud against third-place finisher Bhumjaithai Party that could potentially lead to the party dissolution by the Constitutional Court
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Abhisit enacted on 29 July the Royal Decree Convoking the National Assembly, BE 2554 (2011), by which the National Assembly, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, convened on Monday, 1 August 2011 at Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. The state ceremony of opening the National Assembly was presided over by Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn instead of his aged father who has been confined in hospital for so long. In this first joint session of the National Assembly, Somsak Kiatsuranont has been elected as the President of the House of Representatives (ex officio President of the National Assembly of Thailand); several other members have been selected as the Vice Presidents of the House. The first separate session of the House of Representatives was held in the morning of 5 August to select a new Prime Minister. In which 296 of the 500 members of parliament voted to approve the premiership of Yingluck Shinawatra, three disapproved, and 197 abstained. Four Democrat lawmakers were absent. Somsak Kiatsuranont, President of the National Assembly, advised and consented King Bhumibol Adulyadej to appoint Yingluck Prime Minister on 8 August. The Proclamation on her appointment has taken retroactive effect from 5 August.
Yingluck has set up her Council of Ministers on 9 August. She and her Ministers were sworn in on 10 August. They must then complete addressing their administrative policy to the National Assembly. According to the Constitution, the address must be made within fifteen days from the effective date of the Proclamation on Yingluck's appointment.
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On 4 July, Abhisit Vejjajiva stepped down as the leader of the Democrat Party, as he had promised in the case of a defeat of his party. The Chartthaipattana Party, Chart Pattana Puea Pandin Party, Phalang Chon Party and Mahachon Party agreed to join a coalition government led by the Pheu Thai Party which would have 299 seats in the new House of Representatives. Acting defense minister General Prawit Wongsuwan declared that the armed forces would accept the results and "allow politicians to work it out" without any interference, while the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, pledged not to make any comments during the process of government formation.
The Cambodian foreign minister Hor Namhong congratulated the winners of the election, stating "We cannot hide that we are happy with the Pheu Thai Party's victory" and expressed confidence that, under the new government, the Cambodian–Thai border dispute would be settled. Thai stock markets reacted positively at the news of the Pheu Thai victory, rising by 5% on the first trading day after the election. The markets viewed the Pheu Thai's strong mandate as an opportunity for short-term political stability.
On July 10, Lamian Yusuk, an 80-year-old Rayong inhabitant and supporter of the Democrat Party, committed suicide by consuming herbicide after the party's poor performance. Many Democrat members of the House of Representatives attended her funeral. Abhisit, who did not attend, later offered condolences to Yusuk's relatives by phone. Yusuk's death attracted both positive and negative criticism of the deceased.
The Election Commission's eventual acknowledgment of election results caused the Thai stock market to be rise by 3.67 on July 28. Stock market assistant director Thirada Chaiyuenyong said that the shares index for that day was quite strong, comparing to regional indexes. Many States, including Germany and Japan, also lifted the ban on entry which has been imposed on Thaksin Shinawatra during the regime of Abhisit.
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- See Proclamation on Appointment of Prime Minister (Yingluck Shinawatra) dated 5 August 2011.
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- Thailand's July Election: Understanding the Outcome, Q&A with Catharin Dalpino (July 2011)
- Thai election 2011 collected coverage at Aljazeera
- General Election 2011 collected coverage at the Bangkok Post