Early House dissolution 'unlikely'

Early House dissolution 'unlikely'

EC needs 45 days to redraw election map

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam gives an interview with reporters. (File photo: Bangkok Post)
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam gives an interview with reporters. (File photo: Bangkok Post)

The House of Representatives is unlikely to be dissolved before the Election Commission (EC) finishes redrawing electoral boundaries for the 400 constituency MPs nationwide, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

Speculation about an early election has been reignited following the Jan 29 promulgation of two amended organic laws on elections, which provide legal grounds for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to dissolve the House and call for an early vote.

The election is tentatively scheduled to take place on May 7, as the House of Representatives will complete its term on March 23. However, if the House is dissolved before March 23, then the law requires a snap poll to be held between 45-60 days of the dissolution.

However, it appears the EC still needs time to prepare for the coming polls, as it has not finished redrawing electoral boundaries to accommodate the increase in the number of constituency MPs from 350 to 400.

Speaking after meeting EC secretary-general Sawaeng Boonmee at Government House on Monday, Mr Wissanu said the poll commission wants 45 days to prepare before a House dissolution is called, due to the regulation involving electoral boundaries.

Under the organic law on the election of MPs, the EC must send electoral boundary templates to provincial election offices, which will hold public hearings to gather feedback from stakeholders, including voters and political parties.

Mr Wissanu said the process is expected to take the whole month of February, but it could be shorter if the public does not have objections.

He said he felt the need to inform the public and political parties because some believe the time is ripe for a House dissolution following the enforcement of the two amended organic laws on elections.

"I have to say that the EC hasn't finished redrawing electoral boundaries and can't hold elections. I'll inform the cabinet [today]," he said.

Asked if a House dissolution can be expected after Feb 28, Mr Wissanu said: "It could happen any time.

"I told the EC secretary-general that in politics sometimes we don't have the luxury of waiting. If the House must be dissolved now, it can't wait," he said.

"[Ultimately] it will depend on the situation. But it can't happen unless electoral boundaries have been set."

Mr Sawaeng, however, said the discussion was held to ensure the upcoming elections would proceed smoothly and in line with existing laws.

He insisted he did not raise the issue of a House dissolution, and that the talk focused on what the EC must do to prepare for the polls.

Asked if an early House dissolution would cause problems, he said: "It will make preparations more difficult."

While the EC has asked for 45 days to prepare, it will have to make adjustments if the House is dissolved before that, the EC secretary-general said, adding the poll agency aims to finish drawing electoral boundaries as soon as possible.

"The House's term is not completed. Without a timeline, there won't be an election," he said.

Mr Sawaeng rejected criticism that the EC is dragging its feet to give the United Thai Nation (UTN) party -- of which the prime minister is a member -- more time to campaign.

He also assured the new constituency map is being redrawn in accordance with the law and that they will be accepted by voters and parties.

Meanwhile, the EC agreed at its meeting on Monday that the number of people represented per MP is 165,226, a decision which sees Bangkok allocated the most seats at 33, a source said.

The number is based on the country's latest population figures which were updated on Dec 31 last year, according to the source.

The next step is to forward the matter to the cabinet's secretariat office, before it is announced in the Royal Gazette.


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