The deputy prime minister for legal affairs now expects the Election Commission (EC) to announce the date for this year’s general election by Friday (24 March). The date is expected to fall on Sunday, May 14.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam indicated that with the announcement of the royal decree on Parliament dissolution, the EC will likely announce election-related dates by Friday. The EC will be announcing the election date, the application dates for MP candidates, and the venues where candidates can make their applications. Mr. Wissanu expects the election date to be May 14th. However, he said it would make no difference and there would be no political implications if the date fell on May 7th instead.
Mr. Wissanu also said civil servants must now carry themselves in accordance with Section 78 of the election law. He said the EC has pointed out that some actions by civil servants that do not violate election law may still be in breach of civil servant laws. The EC had given participation in vote rallies as an example, saying this would be in violation of civil servant laws stipulating that state officials are to perform without bias.
Mr. Wissanu said the Cabinet will now need the approval of the EC when making transfers of civil servants and state enterprise executives or when disbursing the central budget. He said he will brief the Cabinet on this matter tomorrow (21 March). Meanwhile, the EC has issued a guidebook for politicians’ conduct after Parliament dissolution. The guidebook details matter such as the Cabinet not being able to hold roving Cabinet meetings or organizing events that involve large numbers of people gathering. The exception to this would be annual events such as the Songkran festival. Cabinet members will not be able to hand out items during festivities. They will be able to attend weddings and hand out wedding gifts but are not allowed to take the stage to deliver a speech.
Mr. Wissanu also spoke of a political party’s recent request for the Administrative Court to determine the legitimacy of the EC’s current electoral districts map for Bangkok. He said the EC will unlikely make changes to the constituency boundaries so long as the court does not rule otherwise. He added he personally was unsure if the court would accept the request as it might fall under the jurisdiction of another court. (NNT)