Election Debacle - Discredited Election Commission and Political Parties

Updated On: May 19, 2006

The Chairman of the Election Commission (EC), Wasana Permlarp, is showing signs of bowing to public pressure.

The Bangkok Post reported him as saying he was considering stepping down '”because [he has] a conscience.'” This is in stark contrast to his earlier insistence that the EC had not done anything wrong and no resignation would be necessary.

Pressure on the EC has mounted as the Supreme Court judges have “told reporters to follow the Criminal Court's ruling on lawsuits filed against the EC by the Democrat party and the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD),” the Bangkok Post stated. Charan Pakdeethanakul, the Supreme Court president's secretary-general, said that if the election commissioners “refused to go, the country's top courts would talk about finding a solution.”

The PAD has announced it will support the courts’ decision to pressure the EC panel to resign by leading a procession. If the commissioners continue to stay in office, it would conduct a public rally to force their resignation.

Meanwhile, the EC seems to be trying to salvage its reputation by “ordering more investigations into the charges that the Thai Rak Thai had funded small parties to contest the April 2 election” as chairman Wasana felt that the Nam Yimyaem panel’s investigation inadequate.

Nonetheless a group of caretaker senators discount the EC’s efficacy and have asked the Attorney General to “seek the dissolution of the Thai Rak Thai Party for having allegedly funded small parties to contest the April 2 election,” the Nation reported.

In any case, Thais generally seem fed up with their politicians. A recent Abac poll found that more than 60 per cent of the 1,629 respondents felt that both the TRT and Democrat parties were at fault. Only 24 % of the respondents believed that the TRT single-handedly hired others to contest the electionto avoid the 20% rule. “A further 13 per cent said they believed the Democrats hired smaller parties to void the election,” the Nation stated. Additionally, support for the TRT has dropped from 28% from 42% last week, while Democrat support has declined about 6% to 10.3%.

With such a scenario, the People's Alliance for Democracy’s decision to establish a political party and address the ills of the country is lauded. The Nation has declared that the “the PAD should grasp the opportunity as the public's political awareness peaks, by offering to be a credible alternative at a time when voters are bored with the Democrats, disappointed with Thai Rak Thai, and disillusioned by both.”

Court cases tipped as EC resignation trigger (Bangkok Post, 18 May 2006)                              
EC orders more investigation into Thai Rak Thai charges (The Nation, 18 May 2006) 
Caretaker senators bypass EC to seek Thai Rak Thai's dissolution (The Nation, 18 May 2006) 
Time for PAD to seize the day (The Nation, 18 May 2006)
Bangkokians say both parties to blame: poll (The Nation, 18 May 2006)