Thailand goes to the polls today for a general election unlikely to heal the country’s political wounds.
It’s the first vote since a bloodless military coup in September last year which forced then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra into exile in Britain.
Thaksin still faces corruption charges but enjoys much popular support in the rural north and north-east of the country.
The People Power Party, which is made up of Thaksin’s allies, is credited with a sizeable lead in opinion polls. The PPP’s leader has promised to bring him back from exile if it wins the election.
But it may not win enough seats for a majority.
Thailand’s other main party, the Democrats, are set to take around a quarter of the 480 seats up for grabs.
They may be able to form a governing coalition with smaller parties.
Analysts say such a fragmented alliance would be weak in the face of the united, pro-Thaksin PPP.
Around 200,000 soldiers and police have been deployed countrywide. Both pro- and anti-Thaksin groups have vowed to protest if there is any indication of irregularities.