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06BANGKOK2370 ELECTION RERUN LEAVES PARLIAMENT’S OPENING STILL IN QUESTION

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“61498″,”4/24/2006 11:01″,”06BANGKOK2370″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK2336″,

“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

 

SIPDIS

 

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?

——————————————— ——-

 

– BOREDOM

 

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

20 percent.

 

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.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

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.

ARVIZU

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Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 7:57 am

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