Thailand’s nationwide elections free of violence despite fears

February 2

Thailand held nationwide elections without bloodshed Sunday despite fears of violence. But the country’s bitter political crisis is far from over, and one of the next flash points is likely to be an effort to nullify the vote.

Although balloting was largely peaceful, protesters forced thousands of polling booths to close in Bangkok and the south, disenfranchising millions of voters. Not all Parliament seats will be filled, as a result, which means the nation could remain in political limbo for months, with the winning party unable to form a new government.

The struggle to hold the vote was part of a three-month-old conflict that has split the country between supporters of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and protesters who say that her government is too corrupt to rule.

The crisis, in which demonstrators have occupied major intersections across Bangkok and forced government ministries to move elsewhere, overshadowed the poll’s run-up to such an extent that campaigning and stump speeches laying out party platforms were virtually nonexistent.

Official results cannot be announced until a series of by-elections are held. The first will take place Feb. 23.

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