Subdued responses to redrawn electoral map

Subdued responses to redrawn electoral map

A Bang Kapi district official carries bags containing ballot papers into a polling station for the Senate election in March 2014.
A Bang Kapi district official carries bags containing ballot papers into a polling station for the Senate election in March 2014.

Politicians have reacted calmly to the Election Commission’s announcement on 350 constituency boundaries published in the Royal Gazette on Thursday.

The official announcement came after an unverified copy of it was leaked in politicians’ chat rooms and went viral on Wednesday. Earlier, gerrymandering fears spread after the junta issued an order giving the EC more time and immunity in redrawing the electoral map. 

EC secretary-general Natt Laosrisavakul said the EC had redrawn the map in compliance with related laws and its own regulations even though the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) had given it immunity to do the job earlier.

He said the EC did not need to probe the leak because it was not responsible for it.

“After the map was redrawn, several things will follow. On Dec 7, the ‘Five Rivers’ will discuss the poll with representatives of political parties. Everything will be clear by then and Thailand will be in turbo mode,” Mr Natt said, referring to the bodies set up by the NCPO to steer the country after the 2014 military coup.

On the new constituencies, Somkid Cheaukong, former Ubon Thani MP of Pheu Thai Party, said some provinces were changed in line with demands from the powers that be while there were no problems with others.

“The EC made the mistake of not announcing the map soon enough. Since the NCPO issued the order to extend the announcement, its image and neutrality have been questioned. The EC must rebuild its image as an organisation that not overshadowed by the NCPO.”

Tewan Liptapallopo, leader of the Chart Pattana Party, said changes had been made to a number of constituencies beyond the three models announced earlier, possibly due to complaints. Nakhon Ratchasima, the party’s stronghold, was also changed.

“But if the EC performs its duty well and we are confident it's impartial, we must accept them,” he said.

On the senator applications, which were on its fourth day on Thursday, the atmosphere was more active than in the past few days. More people showed up, mainly those who are qualified to apply to more than one groups. They came to check their odds since candidates in groups with fewer than three candidates each at the district level will be automatically qualified and go to the provincial level.

The EC will reveal the summary of the senator candidates nationwide on Dec 1.

Under the 2017 charter, all 250 senators come from three groups and all are picked by the junta's chief, directly or indirectly. (see chart) 

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