Thailand’s election commission said on Monday it expected 80 percent of eligible voters to turn out for an August 7 referendum on a controversial constitution that critics have vowed to boycott. The referendum, pushed back from July, will be Thailand’s first return to the ballot-box since junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power in a May 2014 coup, following months of political unrest. Critics of the draft charter, who include the main political parties, say it will enshrine the military’s influence and is unlikely to resolve bitter political disputes. “Around 51 million people have the right to vote. The turnout is expected to be 80 percent,” Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, a member of the Election Commission, told Reuters.
Somchai said around 57 percent of eligible voters turned out the last time Thailand voted on a new constitution in August 2007, following a 2006 coup that ousted populist Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
But he gave no reason for the expected higher turnout. Thailand has been politically fractured for more than a decade, split roughly along north-south lines between supporters of the government ousted in the 2014 coup and the military-backed royalist elite.