NCPO or­ders over­haul

Bangkok Post - - SPOTLIGHT -

This week, a new de­vel­op­ment has qui­etly inched the coun­try closer to a gen­eral elec­tion ten­ta­tively ear­marked for early next year.

The Coun­cil of State, which is the gov­ern­ment’s chief le­gal ad­vi­sory body, was fix­ing the or­der is­sued by the Na­tional Coun­cil for Peace and Or­der to re­draw the con­stituen­cies as dic­tated by the new elec­tion sys­tem set forth by the con­sti­tu­tion.

The re­siz­ing of con­stituen­cies may give an edge to the newer par­ties which look set to en­joy an ad­van­tage over their estab­lished coun­ter­parts in fu­ture polls af­forded to them by the new elec­tion method, which ac­cord­ing to the char­ter writ­ers, com­bines the strengths of vot­ing sys­tems from var­i­ous coun­tries.

The ad­van­tage pro­vided by the new elec­tion method has to do with poll losers be­ing able to re­tain their con­stituency votes which will be counted to­ward a na­tion­wide tally. The loser votes will then be an­a­lysed to de­ter­mine if there is enough for the party to which the de­feated MPs be­long to earn a seat.

In other words, par­ties stand to gain seats in the elec­tion even if their can­di­dates have lost in head-to-head races.

An­other ad­van­tage for the smaller par­ties is the in­tro­duc­tion of a sys­tem where vot­ers cast one bal­lot, in­stead of two — one for a con­stituency can­di­date and the other for the party list — as was seen in the pre­vi­ous elec­tion, ac­cord­ing to some elec­tion ex­perts.

This time around, the sin­gle bal­lot could spell bad news for the older par­ties which at­tract many vot­ers on the ba­sis of their longestab­lished history and the vot­ers’ trust and con­fi­dence that the party has made the right choice of MP can­di­dates for them.

How­ever, un­der the sin­gle-bal­lot sys­tem, vot­ers who give pri­or­ity to the can­di­dates’ cre­den­tials over their at­tach­ment to the party may opt to choose a can­di­date of an­other party which of­fers a per­son they deem to be a bet­ter choice.

The elec­tion ex­perts agreed that af­ter the re-de­mar­ca­tion, some con­stituen­cies which used to be dom­i­nated by one party will an­nex ar­eas which served as strongholds of for­mer MPs of an­other party in pre­vi­ous elec­tions.

It is pre­dicted that ma­jor par­ties will see a de­cline in vot­ing on an ac­count of their old con­stituen­cies be­ing chis­elled away.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Wis­sanu Kre­angam ad­mit­ted yes­ter­day the Coun­cil of State was in the mid­dle of amend­ing the NCPO or­der per­mit­ting the con­stituen­cies to be re-de­mar­cated un­der the or­ganic law on the elec­tion of MPs which has been passed by the Na­tional Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly.

How­ever, Mr Wis­sanu ex­plained the amend­ment would not af­fect changes to the pri­mary vot­ing sys­tem, as some have an­tic­i­pated.

Po­lit­i­cal par­ties have con­sis­tently com­plained there is not enough time left un­til the next elec­tion for them to or­gan­ise the pri­maries, meant for reg­is­tered mem­bers to se­lect po­ten­tial MP can­di­dates for their re­spec­tive par­ties.

The par­ties voiced their com­plaints in the first round of meet­ings be­tween them, the NCPO and EC last month. The next meet­ing is likely to be sched­uled for Septem­ber, ac­cord­ing to the NCPO, which is com­ing un­der pres­sure to re­move the po­lit­i­cal par­ties ban so the par­ties can get down to the busi­ness of re­cruit­ing new mem­bers and pre­pare for pri­mary vot­ing ahead of the next elec­tion.

Many party in­sid­ers in­sist the roadmap to the poll must be re­spected as time is run­ning out. One mis­step, such as the late en­rol­ment of new mem­bers needed for the pri­maries, could cause the elec­tion to be de­ferred again.

Now that the Coun­cil of State is straight­en­ing out the con­stituency re­draw­ing or­der, which marks an early con­crete step to­ward the elec­tion, some ex­perts are breath­ing a sigh of re­lief that the poll roadmap is fi­nally show­ing some move­ment.

Wis­sanu: ‘No change to pri­maries’

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