06BANGKOK2370 ELECTION RERUN LEAVES PARLIAMENT’S OPENING STILL IN QUESTION
“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.
The full text of the original cable is not available.
“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002370
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/25/2016
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TH, SNAP Elections, Elections – Thai
SUBJECT: THAILAND: ELECTION RERUN LEAVES PARLIAMENT\’S
OPENING STILL IN QUESTION
REF: BANGKOK 2336 AND PREVIOUS
Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR SUSAN M. SUTTON: REASON 1.4 (D)
1. (U) Summary: The April 23rd rerun votes for the lower
house, held in 40 unresolved constituencies, has left the
question of how and when to seat the Parliament still hanging
in the air. Lower numbers of voter turnout compared to the
April 2 general election seem to be driven by increased voter
lethargy. But for some of those who did show up to vote,
they chose to tear up their ballots in face of possible
arrest. At least 13 MP seats may not be filled as those TRT
candidates who ran alone in their constituency failed to meet
the 20% required minimum. The Election Commission (EC) is
meeting this evening to decide whether they would proceed to
continue with another round of by-elections on April 30, or
to pass the hot potato — how to convene the Parliament — to
the Constitutional Court. End summary.
BY-ELECTIONS: BOREDOM, CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE…AND MORE LAWSUITS?
2. (U) Amidst poor voter attendance in many voting
districts, the April 23 rerun polls for 40 unresolved seats
has apparently fallen short. The elections were for seats
where no candidates had been able to garner more that 20
percent of the votes in single party polls in the earlier
general elections (and one where the single candidate was
later disqualified). Though no official results were issued
by April 24 morning. preliminary informal readings suggest
that TRT single candidates in at least 13 constituencies
failed to accrue the required 20% of total eligible votes.
3. (C) Embassy officers monitoring the re-run polls in
several districts in southern Thailand and near Bangkok noted
lower levels of voter turnout relative to the April 2 general
elections. Election officials at some of the sites told
poloffs that they and the voters were undergoing their third
(including the April 19 Senate elections) round of polls this
month. The voters in their districts are getting fatigued
they said. At a meeting with poloffs at his home in
Songkhla, TRT candidate Attachan Chaowanich claimed that many
businesspersons and workers, tired of the disruptions caused
by the many polls, would now vote for him, just to get the
elections over. (Note: Attachan had to garner roughly three
times the numbers he got on April 2 to attain the needed 20
percent — a formidable task. End note).
4. (C) Five-time Songkhla Democrat Party MP Nipon Bunyamani
told poloff at lunch on April 23 that he expected that
virtually none of the single TRT candidates in the southern
contests would get 20 percent of the eligible vote. This
might mean more reruns at month\’s end as the TRT government
tries desperately to seat a Parliament as mandated by May 2,
but it is difficult to imagine any way elections next week
would manage to produce any further successful candidates.
With no end in sight and a political deadlock on the horizon,
Nipon said that he wants his party to propose the invocation
of Palace intervention under Article 7 of the Constitution.
— CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
5. (SBU) The EC is faced with a number of challenges from
yesterday\’s by-elections. A small number of constituencies
in the South (4 in Songkhla and 5 polling stations in a
district in Nakhon Si Thammarat) were unable to hold
elections because their respective election officials failed
to show up, due to either safety considerations or
dissatisfaction with their stipend. This is in addition to
the races where the single candidate did not get the required
6. (SBU) For those who did show up, many ticked the \”no vote\”
vote as they did so previously on April 2. Still others
reportedly showed up only to take their ballot home with them
without casting any votes. Meanwhile, 18 voters in the
southern provinces chose to tear up their ballots as an act
of defiance against the TRT, the EC, and the by-elections.
They said that \”this is not democracy\” and that \”voting the
\’no vote\'( would be meaningless.\” A reported eleven people
were arrested for this.
— …AND VIOLENCE
7. (U) Added to the mix were several reports suspected
election-related violence in the South. A small bomb
exploded in the bathroom near one of the polling stations,
causing no injuries, in Narathiwat Province. Another
drive-by shooting was reported in the same province that
killed one man and injured two women.
— MORE LAWSUITS?
8. (C) The EC will be meeting to decide whether a third round
of elections will be held on April 30. If they decide that
the new by-elections will not yield additional winners to
seat the Parliament, they may decide to scrap the April 30
by-election and submit official results (without all 500
seats filled). According to the latest report, the Acting
Parliament President is the official who would then appeal to
the Constitutional Court to rule on whether the House can
convene will less than 500 members. (Comment: The EC\’s
official obligation ends on May 1, one day after the possible
new April 30 by-elections. The EC just certifies the
election results, it does not decide how to deal with the
problems that follow. End Comment.)
THE PAD STONED
9. (U) Meanwhile, the People\’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD)
is trying to make headway outside of Bangkok; their attempt
to hold a seminar in the heart of Thaksin country led to a
confrontation. An angry mob of 200-400 pro-Thaksin
demonstrators attacked two key leaders of the PAD as well as
other seminar participates at an anti-Thaksin forum in the
Northeast. The PAD leaders were met with flying shoes, water
bottles and stones and were forced to end their meeting
early, according to news reports. The PAD charged that two
local TRT MPs instigated the mob.
10. (C) We have gotten to the point we expected to reach.
The EC appears certain to come up more than a dozen MPs short
of the full 500. Many academics are claiming that the
Parliament cannot open, but the constitutional basis for
their claim is not unassailable, and the government seems
convinced that it will find a way to move on, open the
Parliament (consisting almost entirely of TRT members), and
choose a new government. If this happens, PAD is likely to
return to the streets with anti-TRT protests. The elections
have not solved the underlying problem that caused the
protests; in fact, they have provided further examples of the
way that TRT\’s dominance has undermined independent
institutions like the Electoral Commission. End comment.