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“63436”,”5/10/2006 10:37″,”06BANGKOK2750″,


“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK2688″,

“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 002750




E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/10/2016

TAGS: PGOV, TH, Elections – Thai, Thai Political Updates







1. (C) Summary. Observers across the political spectrum

are now speculating on when the Thai electorate will be

called back to the voting booths. As noted in reftel,

questions over the Election Commission\’s role and Caretaker

Prime Minister Thaksin\’s candidature loom large. Politicians

and other observers here are also looking at the potential

impact of the scheduling of the new polls. If delayed long

enough, the vote could even allow for some of Thaksin\’s party

members to switch to the opposition. End summary.





2. (C) As noted in reftel, on May 8 the Constitutional

Court announced that the April 2 general elections were

unconstitutional, the results null and that a new election

must be held for the lower house of Parliament. This

decision came in the wake of the King\’s April 25 speech in

which he publicly criticized the conduct of the elections and

instructed the courts to propose a solution to the issues

surrounding them. The King\’s statements likely served as a

significant motivator for the Court. In a salient part of

his speech, the King said that \”another point is whether it

was right to dissolve the House and call for snap election

within 30 days. There was no debate about this. If it is not

right, it must be corrected. Should the election be

nullified? You have the right to say what\’s appropriate or

not. If it\’s not appropriate, it is not to say the government

is not good. But as far as I am concerned, a one-party

election is not normal. The one candidate situation is





3. (U) In giving its official verdict on last month\’s polls,

the Constitutional Court drew its legal authority to try and

adjudicate the case from Article 198 of the Constitution,

which specifies that \”In the case where the Ombudsman is of

the opinion that the provisions of the law, rules,

regulations or any act of any person under section 197(1)

begs the question of the constitutionality, the Ombudsman

shall submit the case and the opinion to the Constitutional

Court or Administrative Court for decision in accordance with

the procedure of the Constitutional Court or the law on the

procedure of the Administrative Court, as the case may be.

The Constitutional Court or Administrative Court, as the case

may be, shall decide the case submitted by the Ombudsman

without delay.\” The case against the polls was submitted to

the Constitutional Court by the Ombudsman, which had received

the petition from a group of university lecturers and the

PollWatch Foundation (an election monitoring group) Chairman.




4. (U) In public statement after the Constitutional Court

announced the nullification of the April 2 polls, Deputy

Prime Minister Dr. Wissanu Krua-Ngam, stated that there is no

time frame for the next election date because the current

situation is unprecedented. Consequently, in Wissanu\’s view,

the fixing of the next election date is not confined by the

60-day requirement for an election after Parliament\’s

dissolution set by the Constitution. But House Speaker Dr.

Bhokin and other TRT legal advisors told reporters that the

60-day requirement applies to the next election because the

Royal Decree to organize the April 2 election remains valid,

saying that the Constitutional Court only nullified the

election — but not the Royal Decree.




5. (U) The public reaction, save for some public

expressions of joy by anti-Thaksin groups, has been low-key.

There have been no significant protests by TRT supporters.

Polls conducted by the Suan Dusit Rajabhat University and

ABAC indicate a generally positive sentiment among the public

on the ruling. In answer to a question on how they felt

about the ruling, 48 percent replied \”no strong feelings,\” 41

percent said \”positive\” and about 11 percent replied

negatively. Asked whether the ruling would improve Thai

politics, 47 percent said \”Yes,\” 45 percent said \”No change\”

and 6 percent indicated \”things will get worse.\” On the fate

of the EC, 52 percent said that the members should resign and

48 percent said they should not.


6. (U) There remain petitions at the Constitutional Court,

the Election Commission of Thailand, the Ombudsman, and the

Administrative Court challenging the election. The ruling by

the Constitutional Court makes it likely that most, but not

all, of these petitions will be dropped. The Constitutional

Court declined to consider in its recent ruling charges that

small parties were bribed to run as opponents of the TRT,

giving no reason. (Note: The EC Chairman said recently that

the Commission is examining these charges; the Administrative

Court, where these charges are also reportedly being

examined, remains silent. End note.)




7. (C) Democrat Party (DP) Spokesman Ong-Ard Klampaiboon

told us that the DP welcomed the Constitutional Court\’s

decision to nullify the April 2 election and was ready to

contest the new election. He foresaw two optional dates for

the next election, with the first possibility being in early

July with the candidate application taking place in the

middle of June (after the King\’s accession to the throne

celebration) and the alternative option being in August, with

candidate application in July, depending on the choice of the

government and the ECT. He noted that the DP favored having

the poll in August, past the 90-day deadline (Under Section

107 of the Constitution, a candidate in an election must be a

member of one particular political party for a period of not

less than 90 days prior to registering to run) so as to allow

defectors from the Thai Rak Thai to join the contest. Rival

Thai Rak Thai politicians, said Ong-ard, naturally preferred

the first option, because Article 107 would keep potential

defectors within party ranks. DP Secretary-General Suthep

Thaugsuban called for denying the incumbent ECT a role in

organizing the next election and pressed for selection of a

new ECT in its place by virtue of Article 138 of the



8. (C) Prof. Prinya Thewanarumitkun, a law lecturer from

Thammasat University, underlined what he saw as the need for

a new royal decree for a new election. The Constitutional

Court\’s decision on the annulment of the April 2 election, in

his opinion, has nullified the original royal decree; thus,

the Government needs to issue a new royal decree to have a

new election. And since the new royal decree would be based

on the dissolution of the House, a new election must be held

within 60 days of the day of the issuing of new royal decree

(Section 116). The question is when the Thaksin Government

will issue this new decree. Prinya\’s impression is that the

Government will issue the decree to allow a new election as

soon as possible after the royal accession anniversary events

in June.


9. (C) However, to make a new election more democratic,

Prinya believes that the Government should seek to ease the

Article 107-stipulated 90-day party membership rule by

issuing a new royal decree for a new election that allows MPs

to change parties before the vote. Prof. Prinya explained

that in order to make the 90-day rule inapplicable, the

Government can specify the new election date (90 days, give

or take 2 or 3 days, from now or from when it deems

appropriate) and wait for 30 days after that to issue a new

royal decree for a new election to be held at the end of the

60-day period. In doing so, MPs or members of political

parties planning to run in the new election can enter this

contest under the banner of a new political party without

breaking the 90-day rule. (Note: This could lead to some

disgruntled TRT members defecting to the opposition, possibly

reducing the government\’s position in Parliament. Most

observers believe that TRT will contest the new elections

relatively intact, however. End note.)




10. (C) Dr. Likhit Thirawekhin, currently a TRT Party List

MP and ex-political science professor of Thammasat

University, said on May 9 that, in his view, the

Constitutional Court\’s ruling is clear and legitimate. Dr.

Likhit opined that the new election decree must be enacted by

the government in consultation with the Election Commission.

The new election date should be set within 60 days of the

announcement of the new election decree. In case the EC

quits, the election process and date will be prolonged until

the new EC is set up. Dr. Likhit also noted to us that he

and some other TRT members are monitoring the situation and

election schedule since they are considering leaving the

party. He added that some TRT members are fed up with

Thaksin\’s \”no consultation style\” of leadership.



Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:13 am

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