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.
The commission said that parties can start campaigning immediately, adding that overseas voting would begin earlier in March.
The publication of the decree sparked a rally in Thai stocks, with the benchmark SET index rising as much as 1.2 percent to the highest level since mid-December. The index eventually ended the day with a 1 percent gain.