April 24, 2014 00:00 By ATTAYUTH BOOTSRIPOOM Attayuth
MANY STILL speculate as to when a new election will take place, because since the Constitutional Court nullified the February 2 election, there has been no clarity on the matter and no one has been able to make the poll date certain.
Not surprisingly, the ruling Pheu Thai Party hopes the election will take place as soon as possible, and is trying to galvanise former coalition partners and small political parties that have competed before into demanding the poll take place as soon as possible, with June 15 as the suggested date.
As for the Election Commission (EC), the commissioner in charge of organising the election, Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, has proposed an optimistic date of July 20.
Why does July 20 have to be the earliest date for the election to take place? It wasn’t plucked out of thin air – there’s a logical explanation behind it.
The EC will meet the caretaker government to discuss the date by April 30. The process of seeking royal endorsement will also take about 20 days. From the day of the royal decree announcing a new election, it will be 60 days – and July 20 is around that date.
Somchai stressed that 60 days would be required to prepare for a new election because it would involve the printing of 100 million ballot papers and ensuring that all poll stations and officials are prepared. Time will also be needed to send ballot papers overseas and prepare for the elections outside the Kingdom.
This is an optimistic scenario under the assumption that everything will proceed smoothly – but the reality may not be ideal. We must not forget that the Democrat Party is still hesitant, seemingly not wanting to compete in a new election as it has to please the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). The PDRC, led by Suthep Thaugsuban, meanwhile, has explicitly declared it would obstruct the election again until it can form its own government and amend the laws under its slogan of reform before election.
If the situation is not orderly, the EC may not hold another election, citing the possibility that it would be a waste.
What’s more, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has just skipped the meeting between party leaders and the EC to set a new election date, making the likelihood of the party competing even more remote.
Although the road ahead is fraught with problems, the government is continuing to push for the earliest election date possible because it realises that its head, Yingluck Shinawatra, may be removed from power through the Constitutional Court.
In the worst-case scenario for the government, she would be removed along with the whole cabinet. This may create a political vacuum and open the way for a “neutral premier” to be appointed.
However, if a Royal Decree calling for a new election is announced, even if there’s an interim administration, it will be limited by time and mandate.
The Pheu Thai Party is confident it will win a new election again, and an established election date would alleviate the concerns of its supporters. That is why there’s not much defence of the Yingluck administration as it would be seen as supporting individuals, rather than establishing a campaign for a new election date.
The Pheu Thai Party seems to have accepted its fate. But if anything occurs beyond this, we may see another offensive game being played out.