NCPO orders overhaul
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’