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Calls for the Postponement of the General Election

January 27, 2014 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

Calls have been made for the postponement of the general election from Sunday, 2 February 2014, because of severe political conflicts in the country and anti-government protests.

The eight judges at the Constitutional Court on 24 January voted unanimously that the general election could be postponed. They also voted 7 against 1 that the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Election Commission should discuss the issuance of a new royal decree to reschedule the election date.

The ruling of the Constitutional Court came after the Election Commission had submitted a petition requesting the Constitutional Court to rule whether the Election Commission or the Government is authorized to postpone the election. In its petition, the Election Commission said that no candidates had been registered in 28 constituencies in the South, since the venues for the registration of constituency-based candidates were blocked by anti-government protesters.

In such a situation, the new House of Representatives would not be able to open, as it needs at least 475 out of 500 MPs for a quorum. The Election Commission wanted the election to be delayed, but the Government argued that the polls could not be put off and that it had no authority to postpone the election. The Bhumjaithai Party has also called for the postponement of the polls, saying that there should be rules accepted by all sides before the election is held.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission issued a statement that the Emergency Decree on the Public Administration in Emergency Situations, signed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, ran the risk of violating the Constitution and the Election Law. It asserted that, since the Prime Minister involved in issuing orders under the Emergency Decree and was one of the election candidates, her practices might affect election management and election campaigns by the candidates.

Moreover, it said that impacts would be seen, as well, on the part of message receivers who are eligible voters. Section 181 of the Constitution states that there shall not be any exploitation of state resources or state personnel for any act having impacts on an election. In order that the election will be handled with fairness to all parties, the Election Commission urged the person who issued the Emergency Decree not to violate the Constitution concerning the exploitation of state resources.

The Government on 21 January 2014 invoked the Emergency Decree, based on the recommendation of the Center for the Administration of Peace and Order that with the recent incidents of violence in venues of anti-government rallies, the situation could worsen especially in the lead up to the election if steps were not taken. The state of emergency was declared for Bangkok and some parts of nearby provinces (Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan) for 60 days, effective as of 22 January 2014.

The People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which leads the ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok, reiterated the call for reform before a general election. The protests remain peaceful and continue to take place at certain downtown intersections.

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