Anti-government protesters gather near a barbed-wire fence
at a government office where Prime Minster Yingluck
Shinawatra had been holding a meeting in Bangkok.
Thai anti-government protesters who have been camped out
in north Bangkok have packed their tents and marched downtown
as they consolidate efforts to topple Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra, a day after a disrupted general election.
Some joined protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban on foot and
others followed in cars and six-wheel trucks as Thailand's
long-running political conflict showed no sign of ending.
They closed camps at two of the seven big intersections that
they have blockaded since mid-January, at Victory Monument
and Lat Phrao, and headed for the fringes of the central
oasis of Lumpini Park.
A third camp run by an allied group at a big government
administrative complex may also be closed.
Suthep said on Sunday this was being done out of safety
concerns, but it could also be because their numbers are
dwindling. Reuters put the number of marchers at about 3,000.
"Suthep's movement is now crumbling, but it still has
powerful unseen backers," said Chris Baker, a historian and
prominent Thailand scholar.
"Backdoor negotiations are needed because both sides will
avoid any direct confrontation in public view. The business
lobby should revive its efforts to play the intermediary
Suthep's supporters on the route showed no sign of crumbling,
waving flags and handing over money.
The demonstrators blocked balloting in a fifth of the
country's constituencies on Sunday, saying Yingluck must
resign and make way for an appointed "people's council" to
overhaul a political system they say has been taken hostage
by her billionaire brother and former premier, Thaksin
The election, boycotted by the main opposition Democrat
party, is almost certain to return Yingluck to power and,
with voting passing off peacefully across the north and
northeast, Yingluck's supporters will no doubt claim a
But there was no indication of when re-votes of Sunday's
disrupted ballots will be held or when the Election
Commission will be able to announce a result, which will be
the object of legal challenges anyway, including from the
leader of the Democrats, former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva.
The result is unlikely to change the dysfunctional status quo
in a country popular with tourists and investors yet blighted
by eight years of polarisation and turmoil, pitting the
Bangkok-based middle class and royalist establishment against
the mostly poor, rural supporters of the Shinawatras.
The election was peaceful, apart from a few scuffles, with no
repeat of the chaos seen the previous day, when supporters
and opponents of Yingluck clashed in north Bangkok. Seven
people were wounded by gunshots or explosions.
The protesters have rallied in Bangkok since November to try
to oust Yingluck. They wanted electoral rules rewritten
before any election and have vowed to keep up the protests.
"I'm confident this election won't lead to the formation of a
new government," Suthep told supporters late on Sunday.
Giving provisional data on Monday, the Election Commission
said 20.4 million people cast their vote on Sunday, just
under 46 percent of the 44.6 million eligible voters in 68 of
77 provinces. In the other nine provinces, no voting was
Voting was disrupted in 18 percent of constituencies, 67 out
of 375, the commission said, revising data given Sunday.
It could be weeks before seats in the constituencies that saw
disruption are filled and parliament can be convened, so
Yingluck will remain a caretaker premier with no policy
authority, unable to approve any new government spending.
"Having gone through more than two months of protests, the
election will strengthen Yingluck's position, but her
troubles are not over yet," said Kan Yuanyong, director of
the Siam Intelligence Unit think tank.
"We'll see a continuation of the conflict, the standoff
remains and the likelihood of more violence could increase."
The turmoil is taking an economic toll with tourism in
particular being hit.
The protesters say former telecoms tycoon Thaksin has
subverted a fragile democracy with populist politics such as
subsidies, cheap loans and healthcare to woo the poor and
guarantee victory for his parties in every election since
Thaksin's critics also accuse him of disrespecting Thailand's
revered monarchy, which he denies.
Thaksin has lived abroad since 2008 to avoid a jail term for
a graft conviction he says was politically motivated. Critics
say Yingluck is merely a stand-in for him.
Thaksin's supporters accuse the military and the
establishment, including the judiciary, of colluding over the
years to oust his governments.
The military, which has staged numerous coups since Thailand
became a constitutional monarchy in 1932, overthrew Thaksin
in 2006 but has stayed aloof this time.