Giles Ji Ungpakorn
There is an old saying that “voting changes nothing”. This is absolutely true in the case of Thailand, where the military junta are still in power and there is no new government, despite the fact that the junta lost the popular vote to pro-democracy parties in the March election.
One month has now elapsed since the Thai junta’s flawed elections and incredibly the final result has yet to be announced. The reason for this is that the junta-appointed electoral commission is busy trying to engineer and cover up the election fraud.
The commission is yet to release voting figures for each constituency. This is probably because there are some clear irregularities is some areas. But the real fraud is taking place with the Electoral Commission’s complex formula for calculating the number of “Party List” MPs. Seats in the 500 seat elected parliament are split between 350 constituency seats and 150 party list seats. The formula for calculating the number of Party List MPs is so complicated that even the Electoral Commission does not understand it. It has sent its formula for the junta appointed courts to approve.
The details of the complicated formula for the number of Party List seats does not really matter. What matters is that the result can be manipulated so that Generalissimo Prayut stays as Prime Minister and that his party manages to create an overall majority to back up this fraud. So the process seems to start with writing down the number of Party List seats necessary for a junta majority, irrespective of the number of votes. The Electoral Commission can then work backwards to construct a formula which allows this to happen. This involves giving some small irrelevant anti-democratic parties some Party List seats.
Even before this outright fraud, the junta did all in its dictatorial power to make sure it was “seen” to “win” the election. This involved giving civilian parties serious handicaps in the run up to the election, dissolving Taksin’s Thai Raksa Chart Party for no legitimate reason, and stacking the Senate with military appointees.
After the election, the leader of the new Future Forward Party was then charged with sedition and told that his trial would be held in a military court. The Future Forward Party won a large number of votes on an anti-military platform. Military figures and junta toadies have also been threatening all those who oppose the military, in a return to crude Cold War tactics.
The upshot of all this is that the March 2019 elections were not in any way free or fair and Thailand cannot be said to have “returned to democracy”. The junta is intent on continuing its illegitimate and authoritarian rule by claiming to govern through an elected parliament.
The struggle for democracy and human rights must continue.
[See “Thai Politics after the 2019 Election” https://bit.ly/2UsA30a .]