Did Thailand just have its cleanest ever election?

Thailand’s Election Commission, on Thursday, certified the result of the May 14 election less than two weeks after the polls were held. It might be the fastest certification ever in Thailand’s electoral history.

One only has to look back to the previous election to see what the usual post-election landscape was like with red and yellow cards handed to candidates for vote-buying or campaign violations.

Yet in this historic election, when there were plenty on the ground incidents being reported on social media and the press, there was apparently no issue at all?

Even on Election Day, people like Chuwit Kamolvisit were pointing to issues of vote buying – even going so far as to call potential recipients of bribery. Thaksin Shinawatra commented on social media that parties with a large number of constituency seats and low party list seats were likely engaged in some form of vote buying. But according to the Election Commission, this was all fine. Maybe the online pundits are correct in some terms, may be the use of social media and the close scrutiny of the public meant that vote-buying and fraud were not as common as before – certainly not in the large cities. But anecdotal evidence suggests that in the countryside things were par for the course.


Vote buying has been a longstanding issue in Thai politics and has been observed in various elections throughout the country’s history. While it is illegal and widely condemned, the practice of vote buying has persisted to some extent in Thai elections.

Vote buying typically involves political candidates or their supporters offering monetary incentives, gifts, or other benefits to voters in exchange for their support. These inducements can range from cash payments to material goods or even services.

There have been reported cases of vote buying in different forms, such as the distribution of cash, food, or goods, particularly in rural areas where socioeconomic conditions may make voters more vulnerable to such offers. However, it’s important to note that not all elections or constituencies are affected equally, and the extent of vote buying can vary.

The Thai government and Election Commission have made efforts to combat vote buying and have implemented measures to monitor and enforce election laws. These include deploying officials to polling stations, encouraging citizen reporting, and imposing penalties for those found guilty of engaging in vote buying. However, eradicating the practice entirely remains a challenge, and it continues to be a concern in Thai elections.

2019 election

The 2019 general election in Thailand did not involve widespread allegations of electoral fraud. However, there were some concerns raised by various political parties and observers about the fairness of the election process and the role of certain institutions. These concerns primarily focused on issues such as the drafting of the constitution, restrictions on political campaigning, and the composition and impartiality of the Election Commission.

One specific controversy involved the delay in announcing the official election results. The Election Commission faced criticism for alleged irregularities, technical glitches, and delays in releasing the outcome. However, these issues were not indicative of widespread electoral fraud but rather administrative challenges.

It’s important to note that while there were some disputes and grievances related to the election process, the term “electoral fraud” typically refers to deliberate and systematic manipulation or misconduct intended to influence the election outcome. There was no conclusive evidence or widely accepted claims of such fraud in Thailand’s 2019 general election.


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