Time to reveal the formula

Time to reveal the formula

More than a week after the March 24 general election, the public still has more questions than answers when it comes to the results of the poll.

The Election Commission (EC) has only revealed the unofficial results of 350 constituency winners while keeping the public and all political parties in the dark over the distribution of 150 party-list MP seats under the new mixed-member proportional representation electoral system.

As widespread confusion has lingered over the complicated mathematical calculation of the party-list seats, there have been growings call for the EC to reveal the formula it uses for the distribution of the MP seats. It is disappointing that the agency still has no answer.

EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma yesterday told the media that his agency has not yet come up with a decision on what formula it will use for the calculation and would likely only have clarity by the end of the week.

The EC may seek opinions from both the constitution drafters and the National Legislative Assembly on the intention and interpretation of both the charter and the election law, he insisted.

What's more worrying is the way he hinted that the answer would definitely be sought before the deadline of May 9 when all the poll results must be formally endorsed by the EC. No one can wait that long.

Given the complexity of the party-list system, clarification is indeed needed. But the EC should have sought it much earlier from lawmakers, and explained it to the public and political parties ahead of the election for the sake of both transparency and efficiency of the poll.

The 2017 constitution adopts the single-ticket, mixed-member proportional representation electoral system that "makes every vote count". While the system reduces the number of party-list MPs available for big parties that win more constituency seats, it gives more seats to parties that capture fewer votes based on the share of the vote they won.

So far, the distribution of party-list seats under the system has remained a labyrinthine mystery to the majority of the public. While the election law provides a description on how the party-list seats should be distributed, it still leaves room for different interpretations of what calculation formula should be applied.

In an effort to find an answer for themselves, political parties and media outlets have come up with two different formulas based on their interpretations of the law.

The first one, which is recognised by many parties as best representing the intention of the law, gives each party-list seat to some 71,000 votes a party received. The second formula, however, awards each seat for 30,000-50,000 votes.

The EC's failure to give the answer on the party-list distribution has made it hard for political parties to form a coalition government as they are not certain how many seats they will get at the end of the day.

Given that the poll has already been marred with irregularities detected at polling stations and during vote counting, the agency must do its job more professionally and transparently to boost the public's confidence in the poll.

The electorate and political parties need to see the list of 150 party-list MPs and the EC should just give it to them as soon as possible.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : ploenpotea@bangkokpost.co.th

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