The Election Commission has instructed its offices in all provinces to prepare to re-demarcate electoral boundaries to accommodate the increased number of MPs under the amended constitution.
The instruction was given in an urgent letter dated Feb 1, signed by EC deputy secretary-general Kittipong Boriboon on behalf of the secretary-general, and sent to all provincial offices.
It has generated speculation of an early general election.
The letter gives the number of MPs in each province, calculated by the EC from the size of the population shown by domicile registration as of Dec 31, 2021, published in the Royal Gazette on Jan 18.
The official population of Thailand as of Dec 31, 2021 was 66,171,439.
Under the 2017 constitution, as amended in 2021, the next House of Representatives will have 500 members - 400 elected in constituencies and 100 from party lists. This is an increase from 350 constituency MPs.
On average, there will be one constituency MP per 165,428 people.
Based on the sized of populations and the amended constitution, Bangkok will have the highest number of MPs - 33, followed by Nakhon Ratchasima province with 16.
The numbers of MPs in other provinces will be:
- 11 each for Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai and Ubon Ratchathani;
- 10 each for Chon Buri and Buri Ram; 9 each for Nakhon Si Thammarat, Si Sa Ket;
- 9 each for Nakhon Si Thammarat, Si Sa Ket, Songkhla and Udon Thani;
- 8 each for Chiang Rai, Nonthaburi, Roi-et, Samut Prakan and Surin;
- 7 each for Chaiyaphum, Pathum Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Surat Thani;
- 6 each for Kalasin, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Sawan, Phetchabun and Mahasarakham;
- 5 each for Kanchanaburi, Narathiwat, Ayutthaya, Phitsanulok, Rayong, Ratchaburi and Suphan Buri;
- 4 each for Kamphaeng Phet, Chachoengsao, Trang, Tak, Nakhon Phanom, Pattani, Lop Buri, Lampang, Loei, Samut Sakhon, Saraburi and Sukhothai;
- 3 each for Krabi, Chanthaburi, Chumphon, Nan, Bung Kan, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phayao, Phatthalung, Phichit, Phetchaburi, Phrae, Phuket, Yasothon, Yala, Sa Kaeo, Nong Khai, Nong Bua Lamphu and Uttaradit;
- 2 each for Chai Nat, Nakhon Nayok, Phang-nga, Mukdahan, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Satun, Ang Thong, Amnat Charoen and Uthai Thani; and
- 1 each for Trat, Ranong, Samut Songkhram and Sing Buri.
By region, the Central Region, with 27 provinces including Bangkok, will have 139 MPs; the South with 14 provinces will have 58; the North with 16 provinces will have 71; and the Northeast with 20 provinces will have 132.
The EC's use of the 2021 domicile registration to calculate the number of MPs in each province and its instruction for all provinces to prepare to re-demarcate constituencies while parliament is still amending two organic laws - the Election Act and Political Party Act - were seen by some political observers as signalling a possible House dissolution and early general election, maybe this year.