Why did Thailand’s junta bother with its farcical election?

Chiang Mai is swathed in smog. It’s opaque, oppressive and disconcerting.There’s no horizon. The air is yellowish and way, way above acceptable health levels: the result of forest fires and local slash-and-burn agriculture crashing head-to-head with El Niño, the global weather phenomenon.But the sickly air quality – earlier in the year Bangkok was similarly shrouded in pollution – serves only to match the obfuscation and uncertainty surrounding Thailand’s first contested elections in over eight…