IN LESS than two months, and for the first time in eight years, voters will be heading to the polling booths to decide the country’s fate.
Here are the new rules under the current Constitution that everybody should know about:
Mixed-Member Apportionment (MMA) electoral system
There are 350 constituency seats and 150 party-list seats up for grabs this election. Voters will cast a single ballot for a constituency candidate that will also count as a vote for that candidate’s party and be tallied in apportioning party-list seats.
The total number of votes a party receives will determine the total number seats it gains in Parliament in a combination of constituency seats and party-list seats.
Same party different number
Candidates from the same party will not run under the same number. Since it is a single-ballot electoral system, each candidate will have his or her own number. Voters can memorise the number of their preferred constituency candidate. The poll ballot will show the numbers of each candidate, along with their party names and logos.
Prime minister candidate list
The next prime minister may not necessarily come from among the elected MPs, but they must be nominated as candidates and be in the PM nomination list from political parties. Each party can submit up to three names to the Election Commission.
Voters cannot directly cast a ballot for their favoured PM candidate, as the premier will only be chosen jointly by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Voting for a PM
The 250 senators handpicked by the National Council for Peace and Order will join the 350 members of the House of Representatives to choose the next PM from lists submitted by parties that have won at least 5 per cent of the Lower House. The prospective premier needs at least 376 votes.
Outsider or non-list PM
If the joint meeting fails to pick a PM, more than half of the members of both Houses – or 376 – can submit a joint petition to the Parliament’s president requesting that the assembly pass a resolution exempting them from being limited to party lists in choosing a PM.
To pass the exemption, it needs at least two-thirds of the total number of members present in both Houses – or 500 votes.
An “outsider”, who is not on a party list, will be eligible to become the next PM if 376 votes can be garnered from both Houses.
Although the “vote no” option is not new to Thai voters, it will be a meaningful and powerful weapon during this election.
If the “vote no” casts are higher than the number of votes won by the winner in a constituency, a new round of voting is required. All votes in that constituency will be nullified and candidates barred from running again in the new election.
As many as 413 election inspectors in 77 provinces will be in charge of monitoring officers or staff in each polling unit, along with investigating actions deemed to be fraudulent or violating election laws. They will submit their findings to the Election Commission (EC). These inspectors were appointed by the EC to replace the provincial election commissioners.
Ballot casting time
Voters will have more time to cast their ballot, as polling booths will be open from 8am to 5pm, two hours longer than previous elections.
The elderly and disabled will be allowed to take their relative, trusted person or an officer to the polling booth to help cast their ballot for them.
The election will be held under a junta government that retained special powers under Article 44 of the post-coup interim charter and is also guaranteed under the current Constitution. Hence, NCPO chief Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha is eligible to issue any order under this power, including nullifying or cancelling the election in the event of an unexpected incidence.