MPs must cover by-election costs: EC
Agency wants quitters to pay for expense of new polls in the future
The upcoming Chiang Mai by-election will cost the government Bt10 million, but the resigning MP is not required to cover the expense - however incumbents may be told to pick up the tab in the future, if they want to step down early.
Election Commission member Prapun Naigowit said yesterday the EC had already proposed this change, and if it received support from parliamentarians, the EC would revise the laws for electing MPs and senators.
Kasem Nimmolrat returned his MP badge last week citing health problems as well as an interest in running in a local administration election.
The upcoming election will be the third election for the constituency since the 2011 general election. Therefore, Bt30 million will have been spent to elect an MP for this constituency.
Kasem won the seat for Chiang Mai Constituency 3 after it was vacated by Chinnicha Wongsawat, who was banned from politics for five years for falsely declaring her assets.
EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said yesterday the by-election has been scheduled for April 21, while absentee voting will be before Songkran on April 12.
Candidates have between April 2 and 6 to register, he said, adding that there were 136,273 eligible voters. The turnout on June 2 last year was nearly 74 per cent with 100,363 people coming out to vote.
Prapun said the by-election for the same constituency last June cost Bt10.2 million and it should cost about the same this year.
Under the EC's proposed change to the 2002 local administration election law, an official who steps down to run in a local election must cover the cost of the by-election due to his (or her) quitting.
Decision handed to Premier
The proposal was submitted to Parliament two months ago, and as it is related to the government's budget, House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont has forwarded it for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, he said.
Chinnicha is the daughter of former PM Somchai Wongsawat and Yaowapa, who is the sister of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra and a former executive of the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party.
Kasem was Yaowapa's close aide while she was an MP and after she was forced out of politics, he joined her daughter's team, before becoming an MP himself last year. Kasem's wife works for M Link, a company owned by the Shinawatra family.
Pheu Thai Party, meanwhile, has denied speculation that Kasem quit to make way for a comeback by Yaowapa.
It also denied speculation by the opposition Democrat Party that Yaowapa had been chosen to stand in case her sister, Yingluck, is unable to continue as premier.