Constitutional Court does not see merit in Democrat plea against February 2 election
The Constitutional Court yesterday rejected a Democrat Party petition to nullify the February 2 election, saying the court found no merit to hear the case.
The election, though not completed, could not be considered as an unconstitutional way to acquire power to rule the country, the court said.
“The case is not admissible as Article 68 of the Constitution is not applicable in this case,” it said. Former Democrat MP Wirat Kalayasiri had earlier asked the court to invalidate the snap election on the ground that it was not held completely across the country within one day.
Wirat’s petition said that caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra wanted to use the election to whitewash her corruption and misconduct. She wanted the election to justify her return to power, he said.
The petition said the government had insisted on holding the election despite knowing the poll would not be valid. The petition also said holding an election during a state of emergency could not be deemed free and fair as it would give the ruling Pheu Thai Party the upper hand. However, the decision by the court yesterday not to accept the petition will not close the door on other petitions to nullify the election, as the poll process is still far from completed.
Wirat said after the court ruling that the Election Commission should take the complaints over the election’s validity raised by himself and Senator Paiboon Nititawan to the Constitutional Court. “If the court nullifies the election, the political crisis will be over and other actions, such as dissolution of the Pheu Thai Party, could be taken,” he said. The EC has set April 20 as the new election date for voters who failed to cast their ballots in advance voting on January 26, and April 27 for voting in the constituencies, which were blocked from the February 2 election. The EC, however, remains unsure whether it has the legal authority to set the new election date. It will ask the government to issue a new Royal Decree to set the new election date for the remaining 28 constituencies.
“It is still difficult to have the election completely done, but we have to set the date for voting to show that we are working to solve the problem,” said EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen. “It would be a waste of budget if we set a new date but the polls again cannot be held due to disruptions in the eight southern provinces.”
The EC failed to hold the election in the entire country on February 2, as anti-government protesters blocked the ballot process and disrupted it in many provinces. The South is the stronghold of the Democrat, which boycotted the election.
Asked if the situation would improve in late April to enable the election, Supachai said the delay would allow conflicting parities to have time to think about the situation and seek a way to compromise.
Democrat spokesman Chavanont Intarakomalyasut said fixing a new election date was against the Constitution, which says the election must be held in the entire nation within one day.
Pheu Thai spokesman Promphong Nopparit said the EC move to set a new election day was part of a conspiracy to topple the government as it opened another chance for the Democrat Party and the protesters to bring the case to the Constitutional Court to invalidate the election and later shift the blame on the government.