Feb. 2 - Thais head to the polls in Bangkok amid fears of violence in Thailand's general election.
Thailand went to the polls on Sunday (February 2) in an election that could push the divided country deeper into political turmoil and leave the winner paralysed for months by street protests, legal challenges and legislative limbo. The risk of bloodshed at the ballot remains high, one day after seven people were wounded by gunshots and explosions during a standoff between supporters and opponents of embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a north Bangkok stronghold of her Puea Thai Party. The usual campaign billboards, glossy posters and pre-election buzz have been notably absent, as will be millions of voters fearful of poll violence or bent on rejecting a ballot bound to re-elect the political juggernaut controlled by Yingluck's billionaire brother, Thaksin Shinawatra. Victory celebrations would be likely muted for Yingluck. With parliamentary seats unable to be filled and the prospect of violence disrupting voting, she could find herself on shaky ground, exposed to legal attacks and unable to pass bills and budgets crucial to reviving a stuttering economy. Polling stations opened at 8 a.m. (0100 GMT) and the Election Commission says results will not be available on the day. Its commissioners are worried about unrest and are braced for a deluge of complaints and challenges to the results.