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.
The ruling generals have previously set dates for elections but then postponed them.
Five hundred legislators will be elected in the lower house, while 250 senators will be appointed. Several senate seats are reserved for the military.
Thailand’s latest constitution, pushed through by the military government, is designed to limit the power of political parties, with election rules designed to keep any single party from winning a clear majority. It also gives the senate more powers than previous charters.