Poll decree fails to inspire confidence

Poll decree fails to inspire confidence

Political parties offered cautious and sceptical responses after the much-anticipated royal decree calling the election was issued yesterday.

Concerns are also mounting that confusion over the new electoral system could result in many dud ballots being cast.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the ball is now in the Election Commission's (EC) court.

The commission has a lot to prove, including organising a free and fair election. A fraudulent poll manipulated by money and power would only sow the seeds of a future political crisis, he warned.

He said a crisis could also stem from the Senate supporting a prime minister candidate who has no majority backing from the House of Representatives.

Mr Abhisit said the EC must perform its duty and meet public expectations.

Bhumjaithai Party registrar Supachai Jaisamut said his party is ready to field candidates in all 350 constituencies and for the 150 places on the party list.

The party will nominate leader Anutin Charnvirakul as its only prime ministerial candidate.

Mr Supachai insisted the party is close to meeting EC requirements by opening branches in the country's four regions, naming party representatives across all provinces and finishing primaries to select its MP candidates.

He was responding to news reports that the EC had announced that only the Democrat and New Democracy parties had met these requirements.

Chart Pattana Party leader Thewan Liptapanlop, meanwhile, urged the EC to better inform people about the new electoral system, which critics describe as complicated.

He said most people misunderstand it. People will be given one ballot to cast votes for both the party and a candidate, as opposed to two ballots in previous elections.

The nomination of prime ministerial candidates by parties are also new to people. Election candidate numbers could also be a cause of confusion as they vary from constituency to constituency.

If voters go to the polls confused, there could be many dud ballots, Mr Thewan warned.

He said the party plans to reveal its campaign policies and MP candidates on Jan 31.

The party has not chosen its prime ministerial candidates yet, he added.

Pheu Thai also said yesterday it was ready for the election battle.

Ladawan Wongsriwong, the party spokeswoman, said the National Council for Peace and Order should lift orders it has issued related to the election to prevent any poll interference.

The Palang Pracharath Party, meanwhile, hit the campaign trail early with an event to promote Chanuwat Waramit, one of its candidates in Kalasin province.

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