Thai Election Commission renews call to delay snap poll


BANGKOK, Jan 11 – Thailand’s Election Commission (EC) has urged the government to postpone the February 2 general election amid concerns over escalating political unrest and possible disruption.

Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, EC member in charge of election administration, said after an urgent meeting yesterday that the five-member EC agreed to submit a letter to the government, asking it to issue a royal decree to set a new election date.

Citing six reasons in favour of delaying the election, EC members said 28 constituencies in eight provinces have failed to register candidates for the balloting.

Without election in the 28 constituencies, the number of elected MPs will be less than 95 per cent of the total Lower House members, making it impossible to declare Parliament open.

Mr Somchai said there are 22 constituencies with only one candidate each and the winner must receive votes at no less than 20 per cent of eligible voters, adding that new polls may be required in many of the 22 constituencies.

Many government agencies failed to cooperate with the EC in providing officials to inspect and work at polling booths and the EC will possibly be short by at least 100,000 election personnel, he said.

Mr Somchai said the Office of Auditor General (OAG) has asked the EC to rethink if it would be worth the Bt3.885 billion budget to hold the election, now that polls must be called off in 28 constituencies in Thailand’s South.

A snap poll without balloting in 28 constituencies could be unconstitutional and nullified, wasting the national budget, he quoted the OAG as saying.

Mr Somchai said the six reasons, and not predictions, should be enough justification for caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to postpone the election.