‘Silent’ Prayut accused of buying time for UTN
Academics believe Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is waiting for the Election Commission (EC) to complete the redrawing of constituency boundaries before dissolving the House of Representatives sometime this month.
Pressuring is mounting on the PM as he remains silent on when he will dissolve the House after previously saying he would do so early this month.
Stithorn Thananithichot, director of the Office of Innovation for Democracy at the King Prajadhipok’s Institute, told the Bangkok Post that the prime minister is expected to dissolve the House before its tenure ends on March 23.
“The main reason [why the PM has delayed a House dissolution] is because the EC has not finished redrawing constituency boundaries yet,” Mr Stithorn said.
The EC is redrawing boundaries after last Friday’s ruling by the Constitutional Court that non-Thai citizens cannot be included as part of the population in calculating the number of people represented by each MP.
The ruling was in response to a petition lodged against the EC after several politicians and academics disagreed with its methodology, which included three groups of non-Thais in the database to guide the redrawing of constituency boundaries.
Among them were permanent residence permit holders, those with temporary residences and individuals who have been living in Thailand for more than ten years.
Olarn Thinbangtieo, a political science lecturer at Burapha University, said the PM would dissolve the House shortly before March 23 so politicians will have time to switch parties.
“The redrawing of constituency boundaries is also another factor … During the interval, the PM can also make use of state mechanisms and resources to his advantage before the election,” he said.
Julapun Amornvivat, a Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Mai, said that Gen Prayut is delaying the House dissolution because he wants to buy time for the United Thai Nation Party, of which he is chief strategist, to draw as many politicians from other parties as possible to ensure it wins enough House seats to support him returning as prime minister after the election.
Mr Julapun also said that the government is trying to approve projects in a last-ditch effort to woo voters before the election.
“For example, the cabinet yesterday agreed to increase the monthly allowance given to village health volunteers from 1,000 to 2,000 baht,” Mr Julapun said.
“The government just approved it as the election is approaching. Is this intended for ballot-box gains?”
Previously, Gen Prayut said he would dissolve the House before the end of its four-year tenure on March 23 to allow politicians time to switch parties.
Politicians are required to be members of a party for at least 90 days prior to the election date if they wish to qualify to stand as MP candidates.
The EC has announced a May 7 election if the House completes its term on March 23.
But in the case of the House being dissolved sooner, politicians would be required to join a party to qualify as poll candidates at least 30 days before the polls are held.