February 05, 2014 00:00 By Opas Boonlom The Nation
Although the election is over, many legal problems are pending and law experts have yet to reach a consensus on how to apply the law to either legitimise or to nullify the poll.
One legal camp, which wants to nullify the election, suggested that the ballot on Sunday was invalid because it could not be held across the country on the same day as required by Article 180 of the Constitution.
The Election Commission (EC) was unable to hold voting in 28 constituencies in eight provinces in the South as the constituencies had no candidates. It is still unclear if the EC has the authority to set a new election date for these 28 constituencies or if the government has the power to do this.
Also, voters could not cast their ballots in 69 constituencies, mostly in the South and Bangkok, due to disruptions by anti-government protests. The poll law authorises the EC to set a new voting day for those constituencies. There is no legal question on this, as traumas, such as natural disasters, can hit some locations at any time.
Yet, legal experts who want the poll nullified, say that as long as the election is not held on the same day across the nation, it is not valid.
Another theory supporting the invalidity of the election is that advance voting in some areas could not be arranged before the February 2 election day due to the protest. The EC announced that “early” voters who were unable to cast votes on January 26 can do so on February 23. However, some lawyers say that advance votes cast after the date of the national election are invalid.
The EC argued that advance voting had been arranged to facilitate voters who might not find it convenient to cast their ballots on the actual election day. Advance voting is arranged for those living outside their constituencies or overseas. Hence, for the sake of convenience, the law allows it to be held after the election date.
The other legal problem concerns the Democrat Party, which boycotted this election. According to the 2007 Political Party Law, any political party that fails to contest in an election twice in a row or within eight years – depending on which period is longer – can be dissolved. The Democrat Party boycotted the 2006 election and again this year’s election, making it twice in a period less than eight years. It is still unclear if anybody will ask the Constitutional Court to dissolve Thailand’s oldest party.