Kingdom gears for municipal elections

Kingdom gears for municipal elections

The municipal council elections will be held nationwide on March 28, the Election Commission (EC) announced on Thursday.

It will be the second nationwide local polls to be organised since the coup-makers ousted the Pheu Thai Party-led administration in May 2014 and suspended all local elections in the name of maintaining peace and order.

The Provincial Administrative Organisation (PAO) polls, carried out on Dec 20, were the first elections since the coup.

The cabinet on Tuesday approved in principle elections of municipal members and chairs nationwide. On Thursday, the EC met and decided the polls will be set for March 28.

Candidacy registration will open on Feb 8–12. The elections will be held across 2,472 municipalities nationwide. Of them, 30 are city municipalities, 195 are town municipalities and 2,247 are tambon municipalities.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the new Covid-19 outbreak has been a factor in considering when the polls should be held.

The election offices in the provinces had the duty to assess local virus situations before the final timing of the polls was decided. Mr Wissanu added the law authorises the EC to defer the elections even after the polling date has been set. A postponement may be necessary if the Covid-19 infections are uncontained in some localities. However, he said the EC has maintained it will be able to conduct the elections as planned at the end of March.

He said the commission gained experience from organising the PAO elections under tight public health screening measures last year.

Mr Wissanu said he has been told the EC is preparing measures to ensure social distancing among voters.

The polling booths will not be crowded and they will be cleaned thoroughly before being opened on voting day.

The main concern, he said, was that the new wave of Covid-19 infections might hurt turnout.

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