Connect with us

Election

The maths of March 24 – Thailand Election 2019

The Thaiger

Published

on

The maths of March 24 – Thailand Election 2019 | The Thaiger

by Tim Newton

The views of the writer do not necessarily reflect the views of The Thaiger or its business partners.

Since it was first formed in 2008, along with the previous incarnations that swept Thaksin Shinawatra to power in the early 2000s, the Pheu Thai party has remained the dominant force in Thai politics. In 2011 it brought Thaksin’s sister Yingluck to the prime minster’s desk. But a coup in 2014 swept the elected government out of office citing dangerous street protests that had broken out between the Red Shirts (Thaksin sympathisers, mostly representing the populous north and north-east regions) and Yellow Shirts (Bangkok elite, ‘monarchists’ and southern provinces)*.

The maths are quite simple. All things being equal, the Pheu Thai and pro-Thaksin parties would win the March 24 election by sheer weight of numbers of the country’s north-of-Bangkok population base.

But the military have shown that they will stop at nothing to reduce the possibility of Pheu Thai winning another election. They’ve changed the country’s constitution, electoral system and run a, nearly, five year campaign of one-sided propaganda to ensure that a military-sympathetic government, and PM, will rule when the dust settles on the March 24 vote.

The Thai Raksa Chart Party was set up to ‘manipulate’ the new proportional voting system for the country’s lower house of parliament. Early polls showed that the combined power of Pheu Thai and Thai Raksa Chart parties, plus support from a few other minor pro-Thaksin parties, would likely give it the magic 376 MPs to command a majority and form the next government.

With the Constitutional Court disbanding Thai Raksa Chart and banning it’s MPs from forming new parties, a Pheu Thai victory is much, MUCH, more difficult. Taking advantage of the new proportional electoral system Pheu Thai only fielded candidates in 250 constituencies with Thai Raksa Chart fielding MPs in other electorates .

The Pheu Thai-led alliance still needs 376 MPs to regain political power, but it will have to win big and the votes fall their way under the new proportional system.

The mountain to climb has got a lot steeper.

To simplify an extremely complex electoral situation, you can break down the three ‘camps’ into the pro-military parties, the pro-Thaksin parties and the Democrats (and others).

According to recent polls the Pheu Thai party will win the largest share of electorates in the country, hands down. Second, a long way back, will be the Democrats (popular in the capital and southern provinces), the Phalang Pracharat party (with Prayut Chan-o-cha as its PM candidate) in third place and the new Future Forward party drawing the fourth largest block of votes (they have certainly emerged as the rising stars!).

It is statistically likely, actually highly likely, that no party will win a majority (376 seats) in the lower house of Parliament. So the phones will be running hot post March 24 as parties negotiate to form a workable coalition. The most obvious coalition, but historically unlikely, would be all the pro-Thaksin parties putting their numbers together with the Democrats – traditionally political enemies but both hell-bent in getting the military out of politics.

But TIT, it’s Thai politics and, really, anything could happen.

Proportional Voting System: All ballots cast for all parties will be counted together and calculated into the number of seats each party gets out of 500. If it is figured out that Party A gets 200 seats and it already wins 190 constituency seats in the election, it will get an additional 10 seats.

• The Palang Pracharat Party, which has Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as its prime minister candidate, can get several seats without having to win at any constituency (under the new proportional voting system), not least because it has taken many northern and northeastern veterans under its wings.

• If a party has a lot of constituency MPs, it will have a disadvantage when it comes to getting MPs from the proportional system.

• Thai Raksa Chart branched out from Pheu Thai allegedly out of hope that “many are better than one”. The “satellite parties” do not need to win at constituencies, but they should be popular enough to gain substantial votes.

In short, Pheu Thai and its allies need a groundswell of public sympathy in the remaining two weeks. Previously hated by non-Pheu Thai voters, the ‘reds’ have become the underdogs and are getting back-handed support simply by being anti-military.

The court’s short but eloquent ruling dissolving Thai Raksa Chart will be weighed against the emotional goodbye message of the party’s leader and the outcome of that will influence voters.

Whatever happens on March 24, and the final make up of the lower house, the NCPO have ‘rigged’ the parliamentary upper house (the NLA) with military-sympathetic Senators who are all appointed.

Here’s an outrageous prediction…

A coalition of non-military parties will form the next government post March 24. Because no single party will win a majority of seats and select their own Prime Minister, the two houses of parliament will sit to elect an ‘outsider’ PM.

That ‘outsider’ will likely be (roll the drums), Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Then a ‘rubber-stamp’ upper house will continue the conservative work of the past military government amid a whole new raft of daily political squabbles.

But March 24 is still two weeks away and more surprises are likely. TIT.

* Our broad definitions of Red and Yellow shirts are VERY general



Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

Election

EC claims yesterday’s ballots are safe and secure

The Thaiger

Published

on

EC claims yesterday’s ballots are safe and secure | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Pattaya Mail

The Election Commission says all yesterday’s ballots are secure. They’ve told a suspicious media that they, and members of political parties, are allowed to check the security of yesterday’s paper ballots at Thai Post offices and police stations around the country where they are being stored before heading to Thailand Post’s HQ in Bangkok today.

The EC claims that, following the closure of polling stations around the country in yesterday’s pre-election ballot at 5pm, the ballots were sealed in boxes and signed by local EC officials.

The EC, trying to allay fears from voters, candidates and the media, say the procedure is exactly the same as in the past. They say by sending them to Bangkok as soon as possible will prevent any local issues with the security of the ballots.

The advance ballot papers will eventually end up in the country’s voting constituencies where they will be added to next week’s main election day ballots for the big count.

They say all yesterday’s ballots will be sent out to the 350 constituencies to join the other local ballots. Yesterdays voting papers will be escorted by police, CCTV and a GPS tracking system, as well as being accompanied by police escort.

Although the Election Commission and Government turned down the opportunity to host international observers for the conduct of the election, they say the Thai media are invited to monitor the storage and movement of the ballots.

Continue Reading

Election

Will it be same same but different after this Sunday’s vote?

Tim Newton

Published

on

Will it be same same but different after this Sunday’s vote? | The Thaiger

Thailand’s military junta, which has ruled the Land of Smiles since snatching control in a coup in 2014, is now trying to bring its leader, Prayut Chan-o-cha, back as an ‘elected’ PM in next week’s election.

The NCPO has cobbled together an ambitious economic plan that’s rests on a 1.7 trillion baht (US$54 billion) spending spree to revive competitiveness in an economy that remains hamstrung by depressed business confidence and investment.

High speed rail links, an expanded economic corridor to the east of the capital, spending on airports and new infrastructure in the capital  – these are a few of the Junta’s favourite things.

Economic growth is lagging its peers in the region, productivity has weakened and companies are reluctant to invest whilst the elephant remains in the room – political uncertainty and a whiff of military tampering.

The return of democracy this Sunday has its own risks. When the official results are eventually announced, perhaps weeks following the poll, there will be some sort of transition from military rule to civilian rule. If the Palang Pracharath party – pro-military and pro-Prayut – is able to convince voters to keep marching along, then the transition will be relatively simple.

If, however, and more likely, that a coalition of pro-democracy parties is able to form a majority in the country’s lower house of Parliament, the transition may become ‘messy’.

The new government will crow loudly that they have a mandate to unravel some of the long-term economic plans, and even the constitution, that was put in place by the NCPO during their half decade in power.

But the military-appointed upper house of review, the National Legislative Assembly, will likely quash any changes to the military’s ‘vision’.

And on we will go – more political uncertainty, more unrest, and potentially, more protests in the future.

Groundhog Day.

Thailand’s establishment elites, principally based around Bangkok and parts of the south, have dueled for power with the populist alliances of former premier (and now fugitive) Thaksin Shinawatra for over a decade, a fault line that could bring gridlock to the next parliament.

Thaksin and his proxy parties have prevailed in each election since 2001, only to be unseated by the military or the courts each time, most recently in 2014 when the Yingluck Shinawatra government was kicked out of office.

The ongoing instability weighs heavily on Thailand’s competitiveness and investment allure.

Thailand hasplunged 10 places on the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index in the past 11 years, the biggest drop among South East Asia’s top economies – to rank 38 out of 140 countries in 2018.

The index measures everything from the openness of the economy and quality of infrastructure to the strength of institutions and innovation.

But Prayut has cut red tape, making Thailand one of the 10 most improved nations in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 rankings as it vies with neighbours such as Vietnam for investment.

Now it’s the Thai voters who take the next step in this achingly slow politically drama that casts a long shadow over the future of Thailand.

Continue Reading

Election

Thais vote today as registered absentees in the lead up to next week’s election

The Thaiger

Published

on

Thais vote today as registered absentees in the lead up to next week’s election | The Thaiger

Around 2.6 million of 51 million+ eligible voters have registered to vote outside their home Provinces in Thailand. This includes over 928,000 who will cast their votes at 58 polling stations in the capital Bangkok.

98 year old Prem Tinsulanonda, the popular president of the Privy Council, also voted this morning despite his ailing health.

The former premier, who served as Regent after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2016, arrived in a wheelchair at the polling station at Sukhothai School on Sukhothai Road in Dusit district. It was his first public appearance after reportedly being hospitalised recently.

He waved and smiled to reporters but made no remarks, according to The Nation. He was able to stand long enough to drop his ballot in the box.

As part of voting regulations, alcohol sales and distribution are suspended and political parties are not allowed to campaign near polling stations. Police have also been deployed to secure voting venues and manage traffic.

Advance voting will run until 5pm at designated polling stations, but no results will be announced until after the general election next week.

Continue Reading

The Thaiger Newsletter

Keep up with all the day’s news. Subscribe here.

The latest news and information from Thailand.

* indicates required

Trending