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.
Articles about voting issues in the Kingdom of Thailand.
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.
Thailand: Voters approve a military-backed constitution, paving the way for a general election | Reuters
A democratically elected government will take power in Thailand at the earliest by December 2017, a senior Thai official said on Monday, after the country endorsed a military-backed constitution paving the way for a general election. Thais handed the junta of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha a convincing win in the referendum on Sunday, with preliminary results showing over 61 percent voted in favor. Full results are due on Wednesday. A desire to see greater political stability drove the yes vote, analysts said. Thailand has been rocked by more than a decade of political turmoil that has stunted growth, two military takeovers and several rounds of often deadly street protests. “We think there will be an election at the earliest in September or October 2017, and a new government by December 2017,” Chatchai Na Chiang Mai, spokesman for the Constitution Drafting Committee, told Reuters. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam on Monday also said an election will take place in 2017, confirming the timeline Prayuth laid out ahead of the referendum.
Thai voters approved a junta-backed constitution in a referendum on Sunday, preliminary results showed, an outcome that paves the way for an election next year but will also require future elected governments to rule on the military’s terms. Voters handed the junta led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha a convincing win in its first major popularity test at the ballot box since it seized power in a 2014 coup. With 94 percent of the vote counted, early results from the Election Commission showed 61.4 percent of Thais had voted for the charter, while 37.9 percent rejected it. Full results are due on Wednesday. The junta says the constitution is designed to heal more than a decade of divisive politics in Thailand that has dented economic growth and left scores dead in civil unrest. But Thailand’s major political parties and critics of the government say the charter will enshrine the military’s political role for years to come.
Thailand’s military junta will hold a national referendum Sunday on a new constitution that it casts as an essential step toward restoring democracy. But the junta has blocked opponents from campaigning against the measure, banned election monitors and restricted news coverage of the referendum. And the proposed constitution, critics say, would weaken the role of elected officials and extend the military’s influence for years to come. The vote will be the first major test of the military’s standing with the public, as much a referendum on the legitimacy of military rule as on the draft constitution. But no matter the outcome, the junta will remain in control until it decides to hand power back to an elected government. For Thailand, which changes constitutions more often than the United States changes presidents, the proposed charter is not necessarily expected to endure. But it seeks to reduce the influence of any one politician or party, a measure that seems particularly directed at populist leaders who appeal to the poorer rural population of northern Thailand.
Thais head to the polls next week to vote in a referendum designed to breathe life into what has become a stagnant democratic process. An affirmative vote on Aug. 7 will see Thailand adopt a new constitution — its twentieth since 1932. Junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power in 2014, has promised general elections next year — but not before a fresh constitution is adopted. But that next step is by no means a fait accompli for, once again, Thailand is polarized as many fear that Prayuth and his cadres are getting a little too comfortable in the government’s shoes. While there are undoubtedly some who approve of the substance of the draft charter, which was painstakingly drawn up by a military-appointed committee, millions of disillusioned Thai citizens just want to see the wheels of democracy moving again.