Updated: Election monitoring

24 03 2019

With the Bangkok Post stating that “[s]ome instances of vote buying have already been reported,” the Election Commission’s hapless chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong said: “The result of this election will indicate the direction of [Thai] democracy…”. It might, but the junta is not interested in democracy.

He also said “rapid teams are ready to spot election law violations, especially vote buying.” Based on the EC’s failures to date, we doubt that the EC is even interested.

Another EC boss Pol Col Jarungvith Phumma “gave assurances on Saturday the 2,000 election officials and almost 800,000 staff working at polling stations across the country are 100% ready for the general election.” Pol Col Jarungvith “urged the public to help act as the eyes and ears of the EC and keep the general election transparent.”

The promise that EC “investigations” may play a major role in the election outcome, it has “set up 35 sub-committees comprising 175 members to review election-related complaints.”

The EC has also played up the role of “foreign observers.” Election commissioner Loetwirot Kowatthana said “representatives from 11 countries and International IDEA, a democracy advocacy group, attended a forum to familiarise themselves with the election before they began their observations.”

Even from that statement, any reasonable observer will see problems. Not many observers and with not much knowledge. Notably, the EU is doing little. The reasons for this can be quoted at length for the issues and problems it reveals:

In order to avoid confusion following some recent ambiguous media reports, the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Thailand wishes to clarify that the EU is not fielding an Election Observation Mission (EOM) on the occasion of the Thai parliamentary elections to be held on 24 March 2019.

EU election observation requires a long-term, country-wide presence of an independent EOM which conducts its activities according to a comprehensive methodology in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation. This requires an official invitation from the host country and a lead-in time of four to six months in order to prepare the mission, including the deployment of long-term observers. In the case of the Thai general elections, the EU did not receive such an invitation in the required timeframe.

In the absence of an EOM, the EU Delegation – alongside diplomatic missions of some EU Member States – has registered a number of its diplomatic staff members accredited to Thailand for participation in what is commonly referred to as a “diplomatic watch”. This entails visits of accredited persons to polling stations on Election Day only in order to develop a general sense of the conduct of elections, to be used primarily for internal reporting. Such activities are necessarily small both in numbers and geographic scope and therefore do not constitute an “election observation”. They are not sufficient for formulating an overall assessment of the electoral process and cannot form the basis of any public statement.

The European Union in Thailand welcomes the holding of elections as a milestone on the country’s path back to democracy and wishes all Thai people a peaceful and meaningful Election Day.

Not having serious election monitoring suits the junta.

Update: A later Bangkok Post report is that, in Nakhon Pathom, a tambon administration organisation deputy chairman and a kamnan’s assistant have been accused of vote buying. Social media reports are of considerable vote buying, mostly by Palang Pracharath.


Actions

Information