Thai Democrats slam door on poll

Thai Democrats slam door on poll

THAILAND - The Democrat Party, previously the main opposition party, announced yesterday it would not be contesting the February 2 general elections, citing the need for political reform to restore public confidence in Thai politicians and political parties.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the decision was reached by the party's executive committee following careful consideration, with "genuine participation" from party members. He said the party's branches all over the country were sounded out and they all agreed that the party should not field candidates in the upcoming election.

He apologised to the party supporters for this decision but he also added that he had a feeling the Democrats had a good chance of winning if it contested this election.

Abhisit said the country's politics has been a failure over the past eight to nine years because the democratic process has been distorted. This has led to distrust in political parties and elections. He said that without reform, the politics would be mired in corruption.

He also blamed the political failure on the country's lost opportunities.

Abhisit said the caretaker government, when it came to power with a strong majority, had ignored an opportunity to rectify the problems and take the country out of the political failure. Instead, the government focused on personal benefit rather than national interest. He pointed to the government's support for a blanket amnesty bill that led to widespread public outrage.

"The crisis of faith caused by the government has affected other parties in general. The Feb 2 election is unlikely to solve the problem and bring the country out of the vicious cycle," Abhisit said.

"The country has come to this point because the government betrayed the public trust," he said.

The former prime minister said that the Democrat boycott would not affect the election's legitimacy directly. It would depend on the eligible voters whether they view this election as legitimate.

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