Thai demonstrators on Sunday protested against alleged cheating in the junta-ruled kingdom’s first election since a 2014 coup, a week after the controversial poll sowed confusion over the ballot results. A military-backed party and its main rival led by a self-exiled billionaire have both claimed the right to lead the government as inconsistent tallies released by the Election Commission have raised suspicion among voters. The junta-aligned Phalang Pracharat party clinched the popular vote but its rival Pheu Thai — linked to former premier Thaksin Shinawatra — has formed a coalition claiming a majority of seats in the lower house. Full results will be ratified by May 9 but anger has mounted as the wait continues, prompting demonstrations at two Bangkok landmarks. A small but spirited group gathered near the tourist hotspot Erawan Shrine holding a banner that read “Cheating Election” and “People Want to Vote”. It featured the face of 2014 coup leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who is standing as the prime ministerial candidate for Phalang Pracharat. “It is the Pheu Thai party which won the election,” organiser and activist Anurak Jeantawanich said.
A group of international observers criticized vote counting in Thailand’s first election since a 2014 military coup, saying Tuesday that the “tabulation and consolidation of ballots were deeply flawed” though it had no reason to believe the issues affected overall results. The Asian Network for Free Elections said the announcement of some preliminary results that were “wildly inaccurate” damaged the “perceived integrity of the general election.” The group, also known by its acronym Anfrel, is one of several observer groups that have raised concerns about Sunday’s vote, which in part pitted a party allied with the ruling junta against the party that led the government it ousted. Thailand’s Election Commission, appointed by the junta’s hand-picked legislature, has already defended its count, which is still in its preliminary stages. It blamed any issues on the failure of the media to keep up with the raw data. After delaying the release of the full vote count on election night and then again on Monday, the commission has now said it will release its final preliminary results on Friday. Official results are not expected until May.
Officials have disqualified a Thai princess from running for prime minister in next month’s general election after her brother, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, said her nomination would be “inappropriate.” Thailand’s Electoral Commission announced on Monday that the “monarchy must remain above politics.” In a shock announcement on Friday, Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, 67, said she would stand as the prime ministerial candidate for the Thai Raksa Chart Party (Thai Save The Nation, or TSN) aligned with populist former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by the military in a 2006 coup.
Although Thailand will officially hold its first general election in five years on March 24, 2019, the notion that the country will become fully democratic as a result is naive at best and dangerous at worst. The fact is that after the election, Thailand will remain just as undemocratic and most likely governed by an undemocratic administration that has seized and held onto power through undemocratic means. It is absolutely imperative that the international community is aware of this and continues to apply pressure on the Thai government to undergo genuine democratic reforms. The current leader, General Prayuth Gen-o-cha, became prime minister of Thailand in May 2014 after engineering a coup following months of street protests against the government of Yingluck Shinawatra. It was Thailand’s 12th coup d’état since the abolishment of absolute monarchy in 1932. Since then, General Prayuth has ruled with an iron grip through essentially unlimited powers that he has granted himself in the 2014 interim constitution. He has arrested hundreds who have dared to criticize the junta and has gone out of his way to stifle both online and offline political discourse.
Thailand: 15 election candidates change their names to those of former Prime Ministers | The Guardian
More than a dozen candidates in the forthcoming Thai elections have changed their names to those of former prime ministers. Less than two months before the long-awaited elections, excitement is running high. Almost 6,000 candidates turned up on the first day of registration on Monday, no one wants to miss a chance to win a seat. Party spokeswoman Ketpreeya Kaewsanmuang said 10 men had legally changed their names to Thaksin, after the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and five women had changed their name to Yingluck, after his sister who also led the nation.
Thailand: Enthusiasm crashes Thailand election website on first day of early-voting registration | The Straits Times
Thailand’s website for early-voting registration crashed on Monday (Jan 28) morning after a huge number of voters rushed to secure their balloting rights, leading to speculation that the upcoming election could see a high turnout. The March 24 poll will be the country’s first general election in seven years. Early voting this year will take place from March 4 to 17. The online registration opened after midnight on the website of the Department of Public Administration. But the website went down in the morning after too many voters tried to access the site at the same time. The Election Commission’s (EC) deputy secretary-general Nat Laosisavakul said the crash was due to a large number of people entering the website. The failure, in particular, affected those registering for overseas voting, he said.
After more than four years of military rule, Thailand will finally hold elections on March 24. The poll will be the first since generals overthrew a democratically elected government in 2014 after months of violent street protests. The election commission announced the decision on Wednesday after having postponed the vote’s date several times. In December, the commission said the elections would be held on February 24, but the military government expressed concern that election-related events would clash with early preparations for the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, scheduled for May 4-6.
Thailand will hold a general election on March 24 for the first time since a coup in May 2014. The date was set by the Election Commission in Bangkok on Wednesday, a few hours after a royal decree was issued authorizing the poll. Voting will take place under a military-backed charter, ending one of the longest periods of rule by a junta in Thailand’s modern history. The military government over the years repeatedly pushed back the election timeline, after seizing power following a period of unrest that included bloody street protests. The looming vote now puts the focus back on political risk in a country with a history of polls followed by demonstrations and coups.
Rival groups held demonstrations in Thailand’s capital on Saturday, with hundreds of people demanding quick elections to end military rule and a much smaller group of pro-junta supporters saying it was too soon for a vote. The competing protests were tiny compared to those that paralyzed Bangkok in 2014 before the army seized power in the name of ending instability, but were an indication of the tensions in the run-up to a long-delayed ballot. No date has been set for an election which was first promised for 2015 and most recently postponed from Feb. 24. Hundreds joined a demonstration calling for elections on March 10.
A backlash is growing in Thailand against the military junta’s apparent move to further delay elections that are supposed to restore civilian rule, with pro-democracy demonstrators planning to step up their protests in the capital this weekend. The government had given assurances that voting would take place on Feb. 24. But in the latest suggestion that the polls could be pushed back yet again, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam on Thursday said March 24 was the “most suitable date” because it would not overlap with events related to King Vajiralongkorn’s coronation in early May.
Thailand’s long-delayed general election to end military rule will have to be postponed and will likely be held in March, two officials in the Election Commission said yesterday. The Election Commission of Thailand has not announced the postponement but two senior election officials said it was impossible to hold the poll on Feb 24, as announced last month. The military junta that has ruled for nearly five years had earlier suggested a one-month delay because of scheduling clashes with the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in May. “The Feb 24 election cannot take place because the Election Commission doesn’t have enough time to organise it,” a senior commission official said. “There are now two possible dates, March 10 or March 24.”
Thailand’s long-delayed general election to end military rule will have to be postponed from its Feb. 24 date and will likely be held in March, two officials in the Election Commission said on Tuesday. The Election Commission of Thailand has not announced the postponement, but two senior election officials told Reuters it was impossible to hold the polls on Feb. 24, as announced last month. The military junta that has ruled for nearly five years had earlier suggested a one-month delay because of scheduling clashes with the coronation of the king in May. “The February 24 election cannot take place because the Election Commission doesn’t have enough time to organize it,” a senior commission official said.
Demonstrators took to the streets in Bangkok for the third time in a week to criticize the looming postponement of the general election due next month in military-run Thailand. About 200 people on Sunday held placards and chanted slogans calling for an end to delays in the schedule for voting. A group called “We Vote” said it organized the protest in the capital as well as in other cities across the country. “The objective for today is to secure a date for the election after five postponements,” Nuttaa Mahattana, one of the leaders of the group, said on her Facebook page.
Demonstrators gathered for the second time in three days in downtown Bangkok to protest against the possibility of another delay in Thailand’s general election schedule. Postings on Twitter on Tuesday showed dozens of people hoisting placards and calling on the junta to stick to a plan for a poll on Feb. 24, after more than four years of military rule. Such protests were banned until the government in December lifted restrictions on political gatherings ahead of the expected vote. Since then, officials have signaled the poll date may have to be moved to avoid a clash with preparations for the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in May. On New Year’s Day, the Bureau of the Royal Household said that the coronation ceremony will be held on May 4-6.
Dozens of Thai activists on Sunday protested against a possible delay of a national election set for next month, the first such gathering since the military government lifted a ban on political activity imposed after a 2014 coup. The junta has promised and postponed the election several times since it came to power, with the latest date set for Feb. 24. However, the vote faces yet another postponement after Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam suggested on Friday that post-election events might clash with rituals related to King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s coronation from May 4-6.
Thailand will soon hold its first election since the military seized power in a 2014 coup and many hope the vote will return Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy to democracy. The government lifted a ban on political activity when it announced the Feb. 24 election last week, but critics say the junta has taken several steps to remain in power after the vote, casting doubt on how credible the poll will be. “We have seen a systematic manipulation and distortion of the electoral process, of the will of the people, starting from the constitution,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Chulalongkorn University, referring to the military-drafted constitution that was publicly ratified in 2016, two years after the coup.
Thailand’s election law governing its lower house of parliament is set to take effect on Tuesday, paving the way for a long-awaited election to be held, likely next February. In what is expected to be a heated campaign, much attention will focus on the extent of power the military will hold following the vote. As the countdown starts, the focus now is on what Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s plans are regarding his own position and that of other parties. Since the military ousted former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014, the junta government has delayed an election several times, holding back the return of democracy.
The battle to win over millions of first-time and undecided Thai voters is now increasingly being fought online as the military-run government bans campaigning ahead of a general election expected next year. New and established parties and even junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha are vying for attention on platforms ranging from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to the Line messaging service. The contest is set to intensify as the military government that seized power in 2014 prepares to finally hold an election on Feb 24. While the junta in September eased its ban on political activity, allowing parties to raise money and elect leaders, electoral campaigning and political gatherings of more than five people continued to be prohibited.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s fellow junta leaders have dropped a bombshell that might signal another delay in general elections set for Feb. 24, 2019, hot on the heels of Prayuth’s promises that polls would be held before world leaders at the ASEAN Summit in Singapore. That follows a full four years of broken promises. The possibility of delay had been hinted at on Nov. 12 by Deputy Premier Wissanu Krea-ngam who suggested that the election might be pushed back to May 5. He argued that the delay was still within the timeframe determined by the 2017 Constitution and in line with legislative procedures. The delay took a more definitive note when the junta issued a Nov. 16 directive giving the election commission the authority to review and alter the duly completed demarcation of election constituencies as well as to extend the election timeframe.
A Democrat Party committee supervising the election of a new party leader will look into a complaint that an information technology team of former Democrat MP Warong Dechgitvigrom, one of three contenders for the party leadership, had copied a source code from an electronic voting system — an act which could lead to possible fraud. Jermmas Juenglertsiri, secretary-general of the committee, said the panel will investigate the matter. She said copying a source code from the system is a breach of an agreement reached between the IT representatives of the three contenders for the party leadership. Apart from Mr Warong, the other two contenders are incumbent party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, and former party deputy leader Alongkorn Ponlaboot.
Thailand: Deputy Prime Minister says Thailand will stick to 2019 date for general election | Reuters
There will be no delays to a general election planned in Thailand for 2019, the deputy prime minister said on Wednesday, amid the concerns of government critics and the opposition that it could be pushed back. The military government, which came to power after a 2014 coup, has promised to hold an election between February and May next year, following repeated delays on the grounds of constitutional and legislative steps needed ahead of a vote.
Thailand’s military government enacted two new laws that set in motion a countdown leading to elections by May 2019 at the latest – five years after a coup d’etat. The laws, which received royal endorsement on Wednesday with their publication in the Royal Gazette, cover the selection of members of parliament and senators. The act covering lower-house legislators becomes effective in 90 days and mandates that elections be held within 150 days after that, effectively setting a legal deadline in May next year. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who heads the regime that seized power in the 2014 coup, said last month a general election was likely to be held on February 24 but left open the possibility of a later date.
September will sizzle with political intrigue in Thailand. The prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, has announced that his military government will shortly begin discussions with political parties about restoring democracy. Every year since his junta came to power in a coup in 2014, it has promised—and failed—to hold an election. This time it may actually keep its word. The tentative date is February 24th. Mr Prayuth has also said that he will declare in the coming month whether he intends to remain in politics, and if so which party he will join. This is in spite of the fact that he previously insisted that he would neither support any particular political tribe nor run for office himself.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha seems to have dropped another hint that the country’s long-awaited election will be delayed yet again. Despite previously promising that one will be held in February 2019, Prayut recently said that a further delay is possible. “We still confirm that the general election will be held in February 2019. Let’s talk about it later if we cannot hold such an election then, and now there isn’t any factor to make us hold the election sooner,” he told reporters after a cabinet meeting in the southern province of Chumphon.
But scepticism and frustrations are running high in the Land of Smiles following delay after delay as to a promised date for the country’s general election. Shortly after the junta’s – The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) – military coup on 22 May, 2014, it promised an election the following year. Four years later and Thailand is still under military rule. This scepticism was related in the Suan Dusit Rajabhat University’s latest poll findings published in June. The poll, carried out between 5 to 9 June and involving a sample size of 1,130 people throughout the country, revealed that the hottest political topic among Thais is whether or not an election will ever take place, and if so, when.
Thailand’s military junta has moved closer to keeping its long-held promise to hold a general election that could see power transferred back to civilian hands. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kreangam said on Monday that a new bill has been submitted to King Maha Vajiralongkorn for his approval. The bill lays out rules for a lower house election, will take effect 90 days after the king approves it and it is published in the Royal Gazette, the government’s public journal. An election must then follow within 150 days.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday he needed a little more time in office to prepare the country for a general election, just days after his deputy said a vote planned for this year could be delayed. Prayuth, installed as prime minister in August 2014 after leading a coup that ousted a civilian government, has delayed the date of a general election several times. Most recently, he said an election would take place in November. But last week Thailand’s parliamentary body voted to postpone enforcement of a new election law by 90 days, dragging out the time frame. At the time, the deputy prime minister said parliament’s decision could delay the election until 2019.
Thailand’s former ruling party yesterday slammed the junta’s latest postponement of elections until 2019, accusing the generals of buying time to consolidate support ahead of a return to voting. The junta has delayed several poll dates since toppling the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014 and instituting a ban on all political activity. Late Thursday, the military government’s rubber-stamp parliament voted to change an election law and pave the way for polls to be pushed back from the junta’s previously-stated timetable of November 2018. Elections will likely be delayed for three months and fall some time in 2019, deputy prime minister General Prawit Wongsuwon told reporters yesterday, without giving a clear date.
After more than 15 years of development, if the new law permits, Thailand’s Election Commission (EC) will introduce an e-voting system for the 2017 general election. They claim the system will make voting more convenient for citizens, speed up the tallying allowing results to be known immediately after the polls close, and reduce the cost of public elections in the long term. Unfortunately, due to a budget insufficient to purchase all the machines simultaneously, they will be available in only 100 polling stations where voters can choose to vote either manually or electronically. However, the e-voting benefits will likely be undermined by a pervasive lack of public trust. The EC has primarily promoted e-voting on their website, which sports a voting machine simulator which people can try online. To cast a vote electronically, after a manual identification process, a voter can indicate their choice by pushing a button. A paper receipt is then automatically printed out, which the voter may examine and verify before depositing it in a ballot box. This type of machine is most recommended for building people’s faith in the e-voting. This is because the voter can confirm that his vote was recorded as they intended. Receipts from a random sample of polling station can also be manually counted to verify the results of an election and even serve as backups if there are problems with the machine.
Thailand will hold a general election in 2017, the country’s junta chief said on Tuesday, his first comments since voters backed a new military-crafted constitution in a referendum. Sunday’s vote in support of the charter was the first test of public opinion since the 2014 coup. Campaigning and open debate were curbed in the run-up to the poll, however. Thailand’s last general election was in 2011. “The election will be held late 2017 as planned,” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who as army chief seized power two years ago, told reporters. Since the vote, the European Union and the United States – both key allies – have called on Prayut to hold elections swiftly and lift restrictions on civil liberties imposed since his takeover. Previous election dates promised by Prayut have slipped.
An election commissioner will propose a recount at a polling unit, a move which might delay the announcement of the official results on the charter referendum scheduled for Wednesday. Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said on Tuesday he would propose the Election Commission (EC) recount the votes from a poll unit in Phitsanulok’s Muang district. He based the decision on a public video clip showing poll officials turning their back on observers while counting marked ballots without showing each of them publicly. Mr Somchai believes the recording was from one of 15 poll units at Naresuan University.