Election bombshell: Call for senator vote delay amid legal storm

Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

Former election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn urged the Election Commission (EC) to halt the district-level selection of senators slated for this Sunday. Somchai insists it’s “better to be late than to rush ahead” before the Constitutional Court’s impending ruling.

The Constitutional Court has accepted two petitions challenging the constitutionality of three provisions in the election law, and a decision date has yet to be set. Crucially, this decision will not be made before Sunday, throwing the election timeline into chaos.

In a Facebook post today, Somchai argued that it’s not too late to delay the selection process. He highlighted that the court’s decision would clarify necessary amendments to the election law, which Parliament could accomplish in less than a day.

Somchai estimated that the EC’s Office has already spent approximately half of the 1.5 billion baht budget allocated for the district-level selection. He expressed concerns about whether the office can manage the financial implications if the selection is postponed.

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Meanwhile, EC Chairman Itthiporn Boonpracong announced this morning that the seven election commissioners will decide today on whether to postpone the selection, reported Thai PBS World.

Adding to the suspense, EC Secretary-General Sawaeng Boonmee is set to hold a press conference this afternoon to reveal their decision, which is likely to be a postponement.

ORIGINAL STORY: EC to clarify court ruling impact before Sunday Senate elections

The Election Commission (EC) is set to clarify the implications of a Constitutional Court ruling, which agreed to examine a petition challenging four contentious provisions in the Senate election law. This comes just before district-level voting is scheduled nationwide for Sunday.

The court declined to issue an injunction, indicating no severe consequences were anticipated if the Senate election proceeded. The controversial provisions in question include Sections 36, 40(3), 41(3), and 42(3) of the Senate election law. Section 36 pertains to candidate introductions, while the others relate to voting procedures across various levels — district, provincial, and national.

A decision by the court, with an 8:1 vote, accepted the task of determining whether these provisions contravene Section 107 of the constitution, which governs the Senate selection process. The court has requested state agencies submit their opinions within five days of receiving the order or by next week.

Following this decision, the EC’s election management and legal departments are working to address the issue, with an outcome expected to be reviewed by the seven commissioners today, according to EC secretary-general Sawang Boonmee.

In a message to all EC executives, Sawang reassured them that a resolution would be reached promptly, ensuring clarity for Sunday’s district-level voting.

The legal contention arises from the 2018 organic law on the Senate’s composition, which the EC referenced when formulating regulations for the upcoming Senate election. Sawang expressed confidence in the EC’s position against the alleged constitutional breach.

“I strongly believe this problem will eventually be solved.”

EC Chairman Itthiporn Boonpracong instructed provincial EC officials in Ang Thong to adhere strictly to the Senate election handbook for Sunday’s voting.

Caretaker Senator Somchai Swangkarn, who previously alleged that up to 149 candidates had already been preselected as winners at district and provincial levels, warned those involved in collusion could face up to 10 years in prison. He also cautioned that EC officials failing to properly screen candidates might face dereliction of duty charges, reported Bangkok Post.

Another caretaker senator, Direkrit Janekrongtham, expressed concerns that the Senate election results might not be announced on July 2 as planned due to the ongoing issues surrounding the election of 200 new senators.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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