If you voted in or observed the general election in 2019, you would understand why the Election Commission (EC) is being closely watched for the upcoming election on Sunday.
First, all seven members of the current EC are the same members from the previous election, appointed by the National Legislative Assembly, which was the legislative arm of the previous junta.
Secondly, the official results from the previous election were delayed for 45 days, allowing the junta-backed Palang Pracharath Party to form a government instead of the party that won the election, the Pheu Thai Party.
Pheu Thai won by securing 136 parliamentary seats, followed by PPRP with 116 seats, the now-dissolved Future Forward Party (81), Democrat Party (53), and Bhumjaithai Party (51).
Typically, the winning party in the election would have the opportunity to form a government. However, the Pheu Thai Party faced challenges in forming a government because they were unable to forge a coalition with more than 255 seats required for governance.
The 45-day delay played a role in Pheu Thai’s predicament as it provided the PPRP an opportunity to persuade the Democrat Party, the Bhumjaithai Party, and small parties that the junta-appointed senators would only vote for the 2014 coup-leader, General Prayu Chan-o-cha.
In the end, all 250 of them did so.
In every way, the 2019 election was rigged from the start, and in many ways, this election is still being rigged since the junta-drafted charter is still in effect, the appointed senate is still in power, and we still have the same EC members.
The only difference is that there are now two military-backed parties and two coup-makers for the senators to choose from: Prayut’s Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party and General Prawit Wongsuwan’s PPRP.
This is why the Pheu Thai Party came up with the so-called “landslide” strategy to counter the senators’ votes for a prime minister.
However, before we even get to the point of who will get to form a government, it will still be up to the EC to hold a fair election and make sure that they will be able to announce the results faster this time around.
The EC is already off to a bad start at this election by saying that they will not be able to provide real-time results because it is too expensive, even though they received nearly six billion baht worth of taxpayers’ money to arrange the election.
The commission was then hit with stupid mistakes that should not happen in a digital age, including the system crash on the last night of early voting registration and the fact that they mislabeled hundreds of polling envelopes.
These commissioners have had four years to do one job, and they still cannot do it properly with minimum fuss, and people have had enough of it.
More than 1.2 million people have already signed an online petition to strip the current commissioners of their duty because of their alleged incompetence and corruption since the 2019 election.
The EC better tread very carefully here because if the two generals are no longer in the next government, they will have no more backup.
And if, for some reason, they decide to delay the election results or disqualify another prime minister candidate in the opposition for allegedly holding shares of a media company that is no longer in operation, there will be hell to pay, and things could end quite badly for them.