The impossibility of a free and fair election

5 11 2018

PPT has felt a little lonely over the past few years as we have repeatedly pointed out that the military junta’s “election” cannot be free or fair.

So it is that we are gratified to read in The Nation an account of a seminar that comes to the same conclusion.

“Towards a Free and Fair Election: Situation in Thai Society” at Thammasat University discussed the path to the next general election. As PPT usually has it, this is the arranged, crafted, fixed and rigged election being held by the junta, hoping it can cement its political rule. “Hoping” is likely to involve any measure necessary to steal the election.

The “speakers at a panel discussion … held the opinion that a free and fair national vote without the influence of the ruling junta seems unlikely.” As well as refusing to (so far) “lift the ban on political activities,” the junta is accused of having “extend[ed]… its control over the Election Commission (EC),” resulting in “an ‘unfair’ system.”

Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch stated:

To be free and fair, there must be equal access to national media, resources, a fair election-supervising authority, as well as political freedom of electorate, candidates, and political parties…. But as freedom of expression, association and assembly – the main characteristics of a democratic society – remain blocked, Thailand should have other countries coming to observe the electoral process….

The junta has already rejected the idea of observers as amounting to an assault on the national “face.” Of course, the junta also wants not witnesses to its electoral shenanigans.

Puea Thai’s Chaturon Chaisaeng also “said he did not think the upcoming election would be a free and fair one.” He observed: “The bans on political campaigning when the election is drawing near point to a lack of democracy and fairness.”

Of course, those bans do not apply to the junta and its associated anti-democrat parties.

Gothom Arya, a former election commissioner, “also called on the EC to help prevent people in power from taking advantage over other political players in the run-up to the next election.” He accused the junta of interfering with the EC.

For PPT, it is not just a matter of the junta stopping its control of the EC, telling it what to do. The problem is that the EC is not independent and its members will “naturally” work for their bosses.

Will the junta’s election be fair? No. Will it be free? No. Could another party do well enough to “win”? Perhaps, but it seems unlikely. But even if an anti-junta party triumphs, it will be forever hamstrung and tightly restricted by the junta’s (non) independent agencies, rules, laws and a myriad of controls put in place by the military junta.


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