The Nation


Burning Issue

No right to disrupt the electoral process

THE DISRUPTION of candidacy registration on Monday by protesters from the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) underlined the need for a solution to the ongoing political confrontation.

Without a solution agreed by the parties involved, violence could flare up on election day, scheduled for February 2.The PDRC has called for political reform to be implemented before any election is held. According to its plan, the February 2 election should be postponed, a non-politician prime minister appointed and a "People's Council" set up to determine reform measures.

However, the PDRC proposal has not been welcomed by the politicians in power. The government and the Election Commission are gearing up for the February 2 election and most registered political parties have agreed to contest the snap polls called by the prime minister after dissolving the House of Representatives on December 9.

It appears only the PDRC and the Democrat Party, which earlier decided not to field any candidates in the February 2 election, want the election postponed. Hence, there was disruption of the candidacy registration, in a bid to pressure the government.

It is true that many people want the election to be postponed. But there are also many others who want the election to go ahead. This latter group simply wants to exercise its voting right.

Whether the latter group is larger or smaller, the point is that they have the democratic and constitutional right to vote and to contest the election. Therefore, it is not right to prevent other people from registering their election candidacy.

Certainly, the PDRC has to fully shoulder the responsibility for the disruption. The move to block the registration site, the Thai-Japanese Youth Centre Stadium, did not get a positive response. On Tuesday, the PDRC withdrew its protesters from the place and instead opted to focus its campaign on pressuring caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down.

However, it has been widely speculated that there could be attempts to disrupt the February 2 election. This could be done in many ways, such as interrupting election campaigning, causing chaos in different areas, obstructing the work of officials on election day, and holding a mass rally to prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots.

It is true that an election may |not be the best way out for the |country, without national reform. Obviously, we need reform urgently |to prevent our country from going |further downhill.

However, we cannot afford to wait for such reform to be completed before going to the polls. That way, our country will be in a political vacuum for a long period. The country's reputation will be badly affected among the international community. More importantly, the election will be postponed indefinitely until the parties involved can reach an accord on the reform measures.

The PDRC's supporters and sympathisers who disagree with an election on February 2 may make their stance by boycotting it and campaigning for support for their cause. But they have no right to obstruct the people who want to exercise their voting right. In doing so, they risk violating the law. They could be charged with disrupting an election or even attempting to overthrow a democratic system.

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