If a government is elected, it will likely prioritize political survival over fiscal policy. The worst-case scenario, says Sutapa Amornvivat, chief economist at Siam Commercial Bank's Economic Intelligence Center, is a non-functioning government in which "public investment practically shuts down".
Failure to hold an election will also hurt the fiscal 2015 budget allocation, warned Manas Jamveha, director-general of the Comptroller General's Department. He said he expected a four-month delay in planning the 2015 budget if elections are missed.
"Same same but different"
Since 2006, when Yingluck's brother Thaksin was toppled as prime minister by a military coup, Thailand has experienced popular uprisings and bloody crackdowns.
(Read more: This Asian nation faces a growing crisis from aging)
But this time could be - to borrow a phrase from a T-shirt sold to tourists - "same same but different".
Unlike in 2010, the economy is much more reliant on tourism and infrastructure spending, both of which are taking a hit.
Tourism revenues account for 10 percent of GDP, so any impact on the sector "should be significant to economic growth," said Pimonwan Mahujchariyawong, an economist at Kasikorn Research Center.
Thailand is now in its peak tourist season, unlike during the 2010 unrest. In December, tourist arrivals increased by only 6.7 percent over a year earlier, an alarming figure for an industry accustomed to years of double-digit growth. Arrivals jumped more than 30 percent in December 2012.
Airlines have cancelled scores of flights to Bangkok and some hotels are half-empty. Usually occupancy rates during the peak tourist season are more like 80-90 percent, said Piyaman Tejapaibul, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand.
(Read more: Spotlight on Thailand as political strife escalates)
"People are afraid to have meetings or seminars here. There have been a lot of cancellations or postponements," said Ronnachit Mahattanapreut, senior vice-president of the Central Plaza Hotel Pcl.
The hotel group's occupancy rates have dropped to 40-50 percent since December, compared with 60-70 percent a year earlier. "The main factor is the unrest," said Ronnachit.
Nor is the weak baht - down about 6 percent against the dollar since the start of November - helping Thai exporters much, said SCB's Sutapa.
"A lot of private firms are on wait-and-see mode, including exporters who were expecting (business) to pick up with the global recovery," said Sutapa.
Periodic political violence has become "the new normal" for Thailand, but talk of the economy's resilience obscures a greater malaise, said SCB's Sutapa.
(Read more: Thai Prime Minister calls snap election, protesters press on)
Unrest does not seem to dent the economy, she says, until you factor in almost a decade of lost opportunities.
"All this time private investment is much lower as a share of GDP compared to our neighboring countries," she said. "If you look at that, you can definitely see that without political unrest, possibly our economy would be growing much faster."