Parties told to toe the line as election run-up begins

Parties told to toe the line as election run-up begins

A meeting of the House of Representatives. (File photo: Parliament)
A meeting of the House of Representatives. (File photo: Parliament)

With the official pre-election period officially beginning on Saturday, political parties and prospective election candidates are being advised to carefully study the Election Commission's (EC) new electioneering regulations.

Unlike in past elections when between 30 and 40 days were usually given over to campaigning, in the upcoming polls, the new election law stipulates a 180-day pre-election period during which such regulations apply, EC secretary-general Sawang Boonmee said on Friday.

After it kicks off Saturday, the pre-election period is scheduled to run until the House of Representatives' four-year term expires.

Announced by the EC on Thursday, the regulations serve as a guideline for political parties and would-be candidates as to what they can and cannot do between now and the day of the election, planned for May 7, he said.

All expenses incurred by activities deemed as electioneering will be counted while the maximum electioneering budget has yet to be decided, he said.

As an example, he said, before Saturday, parties were allowed to offer flood relief of up to 300,000 baht before the sum was considered to be campaign spending.

Now, during the 180-day period, parties are not allowed to offer any such flood relief, or they will face legal action for violating the new law, he said.

Potential candidates who previously put up their posters in public spaces are now being advised to take them down and make sure they conform to the new election regulations in terms of size, number and the locations where they are placed, he said.

Posters put up by someone else yet containing content counted as electioneering for any particular party, such as a welcoming poster for cabinet ministers, will also be counted among that particular party's campaign materials, he said.

Acting prime minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who is due to visit Phetchabun on Sunday for a function, is figuring out what to do with large posters that local officials may have prepared to welcome him, said a source.

Other related activities, such as organising general assemblies, raising funds or introducing election candidates to the public will also have to conform to the new election law, said Mr Sawang.

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