BANGKOK - Thailand started voting on Sunday in an election called by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in December in an attempt to defuse protests aimed at overthrowing her.
However, the protesters are still out on the streets and say they may disrupt voting. The main opposition Democrat Party is boycotting the election.
- There are 49 million eligible voters for 375 constituencies. A further 125 seats are allocated based on the percentage of votes each party wins.
- Bangkok, dominated by the Democrat Party in the last election in 2011, has 33 constituencies.
- Out of 2.16 million people who registered for early voting on January 26, some 440,000 were unable to vote. These people will have another chance on February 23.
- In the last election in 2011, Yingluck's Puea Thai Party won 265 seats with 48 percent of the vote and the Democrats got 159 seats with 35 percent. The turnout was 75 percent.
- The Election Commission says it expects a strong turnout in the north, northeast and central provinces but warned of disruption to voting in Bangkok and the south.
- It says official results will not be announced on Sunday.
- Another day of voting is already planned for February 23 because of the disruption to advance voting. This means a delay to the final result in some constituencies.
- Candidates were unable to register in 28 constituencies because of action by the anti-government protesters, who have also blocked the delivery of voting papers to some polling stations. By-elections will have to be held there, as and when possible.
PROBABLE DELAY TO OPENING PARLIAMENT
- At least 95 percent of the 500 lawmakers must be present for parliament to open and then proceed to the election of a prime minister. Given the delay in registering candidates in some places, Sunday's vote cannot deliver a quorum.
- Holding by-elections could take several months, especially as the constituencies involved are in areas of the south of the country loyal to the Democrat Party and supportive of the present anti-government protest movement.
(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Writing by Jonathan Thatcher and Alan Raybould; Editing by Nick Macfie)