Stalemate in Bangkok: protests go on despite Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s surprise election offer

Analysts say call for early elections is unlikely to satisfy opponents who want to rid country of Shinawatra family's influence

Bangkok

The Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s surprise decision to call snap elections failed to end mass rallies in Bangkok last night.

In a day that saw hundreds of thousands of protesters march across the capital, the Prime Minister announced the decision to dissolve parliament just over halfway through her four-year term following a month of anti-government rallies.

“Let the people decide the direction of the country and who the governing majority will be,” she said in a televised address.

Suthep Thaugsuban, a protest leader, claimed victory in a speech outside the Prime Minister’s office on Monday evening, saying sovereign power “has been taken back by the people”. 

The main opposition Democrat Party resigned from parliament en masse on Sunday and is yet to decide whether to take part in the snap election, called for 2 February. It will make a decision this week, said its spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut.

“We are not thinking of winning or losing elections at this stage; we just want the best for the country,” he told The Independent.

The government has faced almost daily protests after it tried to pass an unpopular amnesty bill through parliament that critics said would have smoothed the return of the Prime Minister’s exiled brother, the billionaire tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, also a former leader of the country.

The government had termed the proposed legislation “a political reset” after nearly a decade of cyclical violence and protests. But rallies have continued in Bangkok since the Senate defeated the bill a month ago.

Sensing waning government popularity, protest leaders have stepped up their demands for the end of Mr Thaksin’s influence and even a boycott of products linked to his family business empire, which includes internet services, hospitals and restaurants. Four people were killed last week as government supporters clashed with demonstrators in Bangkok.

“To end the situation, Yingluck has to show more humility and listen to the people,” said Mr Chavanond. “So far, we have never even heard the word sorry from the government.”

Although opinion polls in recent weeks have shown waning support for the Prime Minister, Ms Yingluck’s support remains strong in the north of the country, with analysts expecting another election win in February. Thaksin-linked parties have won every election in Thailand since he won a landslide victory on a populist platform in 2001.

“We are fine with losing the elections but if Yingluck comes back to power she would do things for her family – for her brother – and the situation would be unchanged,” said Mr Chavanond.

Protest leaders continue to call for an interim administration appointed by ailing 86-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej and for Thai politics to be purged of the influence of Thaksin, the man many consider to be the exiled power behind his sister’s administration.

Anti-government protesters jump over a concrete barricade as they get closer to the Government House in Bangkok today Anti-government protesters jump over a concrete barricade as they get closer to the Government House in Bangkok (Reuters)
Crowds outside Government House continued to call for intervention by the military last night. Thailand has witnessed at least 20 attempted or successful coups in the past century – but so far the army has tried to appear impartial.

“A coup would only lead to further problems,” Thailand’s Army Chief Prayuth Chan-ocha told the Bangkok Post.

With the opposition continuing to seek extra-parliamentary means to bring down the government and the Shinawatras showing little sign of exiting Thailand’s political scene, reconciliation seems unlikely, said the political analyst Thanet Aphornsuvan.

“The elections won’t get us a resolution. We’re going to have another deadlock,” said Mr Thanet. “The only way Democrats can get their way is through a coup d’état.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen