Thailand went to the polls yesterday and although there was some disruption due to the actions of anti-government protesters, officials say that nationwide 89% of polling booths operated normally. There were some isolated outbreaks of violence, notably on Saturday in Bangkok’s northern Laksi district where shots were fired as rival groups clashed. However, the weekend passed off relatively peacefully. The final election result is still some weeks away with by-elections still needed in a number of districts where protesters previously blocked candidates from registering. There is also the prospect of legal challenges to the validity of the election which was boycotted by the main opposition Democrat Party. A number of MPs, including caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra also face the possibility of legal action which could have a major impact on any election result.
What does this mean for tourists?
Apart from restrictions on alcohol sales over the weekend, the vast majority of tourists in Thailand at the moment will have noticed no difference in Bangkok or other areas of Thailand. The political turmoil isn’t over, but it remains largely a sideshow for tourists who continue to enjoy holidays in Thailand unaffected by the protests or elections. The main protest group, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), announced today that they would be closing down two of their seven protest sites in Bangkok. The PDRC say this is because of security concerns, but a fall in the number of people protesting combined with the huge financial costs of staging the demonstrations may also have a bearing on the decision. The protests in Bangkok aren’t over, but they are still no real cause for concern if you are visiting Thailand.