PRIME MINISTER Prayuth Chan-o-cha will need to invoke Article 44 of the Constitution to deal with the issue of primary voting, as the junta has been slow in lifting the ban on political activities.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who is in charge of the government’s legal affairs, explained yesterday that a new approach would be adopted to solve the primary voting problem. Each party will have to appoint an 11-member panel –comprised of four party executives and seven ordinary party members.
This panel will then meet party members in each province before coming up with a list of potential MP candidates for each constituency.
If party executives fail to decide on a successful candidate, the committee can come up with a new list. Should the issue persist, the executives and the committee can then hold a secret ballot to reach a resolution, Wissanu said.
He added that this approach was in line with the Constitution.
Initially, primary voting was included in the organic law to boost member participation and prevent party executives from dominating the party. Party members voted for candidates deemed eligible by the selection committee, while party executives could only choose one of two candidates winning the most votes.
Primary voting has yet to be held for the upcoming elections, as restrictions imposed by the junta have made it difficult for political parties to establish provincial branches and arrange primary voting.
Wissanu, however, said the new method would ease time constraints. Once the organic law on the election of MPs is promulgated next month, the Election Commission can proceed to draw electoral boundaries.
This process should take no more than 60 days, Wissanu said, adding that parties can use the last 30 days to handle candidate selection as per the boundaries drawn.
The order, issued under Article 44, can be expected after the promulgation of the election-related bills next month, Wissanu said.
This development came after the NCPO on Tuesday agreed to partially lift the ban on political activities, which has been in place since the 2014 coup. The NCPO said the partial lifting was to allow parties to make necessary arrangements ahead of the national election planned for February 24 at the earliest.
Meanwhile, National Legislative Assembly member Somjet Boonthanom, responsible for designing the primary voting clause in the bill, said he was disappointed with the alternative.
“We want political parties to be an institution, so we made provisions for members to choose their representatives,” he said. “But they can’t do it and we’re now going back to the same old problem.”