Poll proposal for March 10 gains steam

Poll proposal for March 10 gains steam

Former EC member talks up new date

Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a former Election Commission (EC) member, has supported the EC's proposal for March 10 as the new election date if the poll is delayed from Feb 24.

March 10 will be "a safe poll date'' to avoid any future legal complications that could lead to the poll being nullified, said Mr Somchai who is now a Democrat Party candidate for a House seat in Samut Sakhon.

On Friday, an EC source told the Bangkok Post that the commission has proposed March 10 to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

That date is still within the 150-day deadline for the election to be held. Under the constitution, the election must be held within 150 days of the organic law governing the election of MPs taking effect, which took place on Dec 11 last year.

The source also said that the EC has asked for 45 days to prepare for the election.

If the cabinet agrees to the proposal, it must issue a royal decree calling the election by Jan 25, the source said.

According to the timeframe announced at a meeting between the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and political parties on Dec 7 of last year, the election was scheduled to be held on Feb 24.

But Mr Wissanu said on Thursday the poll will likely be delayed to avoid clashing with His Majesty the King's coronation ceremony set for May 4-6 and other relevant events that will take place before and after the three-day coronation period.

Mr Somchai said yesterday that if the election is to take place on Feb 24 as originally planned, at least 95% of the poll results must be announced within 60 days, or by April 25.

This will clash with preliminary preparations for the coronation which is expected to begin after Songkran, or April 15. Several activities related to the coronation will be held between April 21 and 25.

Mr Somchai added that the day when parliament will convene its first meeting must also be considered.

Under the constitution, parliament will convene its first meeting within 15 days of at least 95% of the poll results being announced, or by May 9, based on the Feb 24 poll date, but this is still too close to the coronation ceremony.

If the poll takes place on March 10, the results must be announced by May 9 based on the 60-day timeframe, Mr Somchai said.

Moreover, it is still within the 150-day deadline for the election to be held, Mr Somchai said.

He also noted that there are still some legal issues which remain unclear; such as whether the 150-day period only covers the casting of the ballots or also covers the announcement of the results.

The EC has previously sought an answer from the Constitution Drafting Committee, the Council of State and Mr Wissanu, but none of them could clarify, Mr Somchai said, adding that they claimed that the power to rule on the issue rests with the Constitutional Court.

However, when the EC asked the court about the issue, the court refused to answer.

In light of this, March 10 will be the most suitable date, as it provides "a safety net'' for the EC to hold the election and announce the results by May 9 without having to worry whether the poll might be nullified later, Mr Somchai said.

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