Thailand's Constitutional Court has ruled the 2 February general election invalid,
The snap poll was called by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra amid major anti-government protests in Bangkok. The ruling party was expected to win, but the opposition boycotted it and protesters disrupted voting, meaning the election has not been
The vote was found to be unconstitutional because it did not take place on the same day across the country, the court said. Polls were not held in a number of constituencies because protesters had blocked candidate registration.
It is not clear when a new election will be held. There is a senate election lined up for 30th March, but presumably this ruling affects that too.
Tourists are once again able to travel around protest-hit Bangkok, after demonstrators moved their camps from the city's major road intersections to a nearby park.
Protesters had blocked key streets in the Thai capital since mid-January as part of a city-wide shutdown in a bid to push out Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and eradicate the influence of her brother, ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who
was ousted from power in 2006.
But on Friday, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban told reporters that the groups of demonstrators would relocate their camps from the city's streets to Lumpini Park.
However, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office is still warning tourists to be vigilant. Advice on the website states:
Political demonstrations continue in and around Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand. Some of these have been violent, including the use of firearms and grenades, and there have been casualties and deaths. The situation is unpredictable and further
protests are expected. You should not enter protest sites or the adjacent pedestrian areas.
The Australian government's smartraveller.gov.au advisory for travellers doesn't say it. But it's time to speak bluntly: Do not enter or go near anti-government protest sites in Bangkok. And do not travel around the city late at night.
Every day for the past week I have seen tourists, including Australians, wandering through protest areas, seemingly oblivious to the dangers. Some of them had children with them. But since last Friday there have been dozens of reports of violent
incidents and at least six grenade attacks that left four children dead and more than 60 people injured.
The worst attack was on Sunday night in the middle of Bangkok's commercial and tourist centre. A five-year-old boy and his six-year-old sister were killed and almost 30 people were injured, some seriously, by a grenade. Anti-government protesters
on the streets in Bangkok.
The protest area is near several of Bangkok's largest five-star hotels and ritzy shopping malls popular with tourists. One of them, Central World shopping centre, was largely destroyed when it was firebombed during bloodshed in 2010.
Some countries have warned their citizens to stay away from Bangkok. Hong Kong even issued a black (severe) warning threat for Thailand (Bangkok), which prompted criticism from tourism operators that it had gone too far.
Since protests began last November, 21 people have died and more than 800 have been injured. Thailand's military has warned that the country could face collapse unless urgent action is taken to end escalating violence.
The annual multilateral military drill, Cobra Gold 2014, has kicked off in Phitsanulok Province, with the armed
forces of Thailand, USA, and other nations participating.
Military troops from Thailand, the United States, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia gathered at Camp Akatosorot in Phitsanulok to take part in an opening ceremony held to mark the official start of Exercise Cobra Gold 2014.
Around 10,000 military personnel are taking part in this annual exercise, which continues until February 21.
Presumably there will be some rest and relaxation in Pattaya
Thailand might just be one symptom of a worldwide phenomenon: a march away from western-style liberal
democracy, towards new styles of politics: especially one-party Asian autocracy, with state-directed capitalism.
The reasons are obvious. As a brand, western democracy is damaged. When developing nations look to the democratic West, they see a dwindling and weakened superpower in America. Meanwhile, Europe has economically imploded, and
anyway seems determined to abandon national liberties in favour of a feeble, mincing Federation, run, ineffectively, by bankers and bureaucrats.
The contrast with the success of the Chinese/Singaporean model is stark. Autocratic China is still enjoying powerful growth: it will soon surpass America in economic size. Singapore, meanwhile, has gone from equatorial
backwater to being maybe the richest city in the world, without ever bothering too much with that annoying, listen-to-the-voters stuff.
So if you were a developing nation -- especially in Asia -- which political model would you choose? The western democratic model of failing France, enervated Britain and shrinking America? Or the Chinese and Singaporean style
of politics, which actually delivers the goods?
Singha beer, made by the oldest brewery in Thailand, is a national icon. But in recent weeks it has also become a target of an
informal boycott by Thais who are angry that a member of the wealthy family behind the beer company is one of the leaders of anti-government demonstrators who are trying to scuttle elections planned for next month.
Chitpas Bhirombhakdi, 28, the beer heiress and a major player in the Bangkok protests, was quoted last month in a widely circulated article saying that many Thais lack a true understanding of democracy, especially in the rural areas.
The remarks incited palpable anger here in northeastern Thailand, a vast and formerly impoverished rice-growing region that has seen sharp improvements in living conditions and education in recent decades, partly because of the policies of Thaksin
Shinawatra, the billionaire tycoon and former prime minister who is the focus of the protests.
As the boycott was spreading in the northeast, mostly through social media and word of mouth, Chitpas wrote on her Facebook page that she was fighting for the country and had no intention to infringe on other people's rights. She did not
deny the words attributed to her about Thais lacking an understanding of democracy, but she added, I would like to inform you that I've never looked down on rural people at all.
Boon Rawd Brewery, the company that makes Singha and Leo, a cheaper beer that is popular in the northeast, declined to reveal the extent of the damage caused by the boycott. But some shopkeepers say sales of Singha and Leo around New Year's,
traditionally a time of heavy drinking, were down sharply.