Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan insists that 60 days is long enough for election campaigning after the ban on political activities is lifted.
But if Abraham Lincoln was right in defining democracy as “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”, then 60 days is nowhere near enough.
The junta has banned all political activities, not just campaigning. Before a party can even form its policy platform, it must engage in many activities that are currently banned, among which is holding nationwide meetings of members to determine what they want from their party – especially since almost all parties are brand-new. Members from one region may have different needs from their counterparts in other regions. These differences must be discussed at length and harmonised. Even for old parties, members’ needs change as circumstances change. We are seeing this in the US, where a core plank of Republican Party policy for decades has been free trade, but Trump has been hurling tariffs left, right, and centre.
Then, party delegates must meet and, through time-consuming negotiations, forge a party platform that defines who they are and why voters should select them above others.
Only after they have a well-hashed-out platform, appealing to a sufficiently wide segment of voters, should parties go and campaign – and even so, 60 days isn’t enough for nationwide campaigns.
Thus, the junta should lift the ban on political activities now, empowering parties to accurately reflect their members’ long-term needs and desires through extensive discussions, thereby leading to stable constituencies who stay with their party through thick and thin, giving us stable governments.