Updated: On stealing the election IV

5 04 2019

The New York Times has a detailed report on the aftermath of the junta’s long “election.” It sees the junta as “clinging to every advantage it can to gain an edge through the election.”

It adds that “the junta gave itself many of those advantages, as it put in place a new Constitution and electoral system after seizing power in a 2014 coup…. Those changes gave the generals sweeping influence over Parliament itself, and over an Election Commission with great power to bar candidates and target lawmakers for ejection.”

When pundits seem surprised that the junta’s Palang Pracharath did “better than expected” in the “election,” they might be better asking why it did so badly when the junta served up a rigged election. If the party had done better, then the junta wouldn’t have to be seen as now stealing its own election.

Recall that after the 2006 coup, the military and its government had just over a year to overcome the appeal of the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra party and was successful in reducing the 2005 result for Thai Rak Thai of 56% of the popular vote to 37% of the constituency vote for People’s Power Party in 2007. In 2011, Pheu Thai received 48% of the vote while it got about 23% of the 2019 vote. But, the voting system in 2019 was vastly different and Pheu Thai only stood in about 70% of constituencies. At the same time, the main anti-Thaksin party vote reduced from 32% in 2011 to 24% in 2019. That’s why the junta is in trouble now.

A pattern is identified by the NYT report, citing Verapat Pariyawong a visiting scholar at SOAS: “Palang Pracharat ran on the idea of maintaining stability and continuity and the others ran on the basis of restoring democracy…. The majority of Thai voters went for the idea that we need to restore democracy.”

The report also mentions the bumbling EC. Its decision to order a few recounts and several re-votes in some constituencies dos little to dissuade people from seeing the agency as hopeless or tainted.

The report concludes that “whatever the outcome of the vote, the Constitution gives the military the authority to shape Parliament’s membership in the months and years ahead.”

Update: As well as trying to improve the expression in our paragraph above on statistics, we want to point readers to a blog discussion The Fate of Pheu Thai in the 2019 Elections. This is by two numerate political scientists who crunch the numbers and pretty much ignore the politics (and possible vote problems) but still have useful data. We can’t help thinking that the comparison is better made with 2007, but then we are mainly interested in the politics.


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