The Election Commission (EC) is defending its MP calculation method, which takes into account non-Thai residents, for the coming election, saying it is in compliance with the kingdom’s civil registration law.
The poll agency has been facing a barrage of criticism since it released details of the boundaries for 400 constituencies, because its calculations take into account both Thai and non-Thai residents, regardless of citizenship.
According to the EC, there will be one member of parliament per 165,226 people in the upcoming election. The ratio is based on an Interior Ministry report showing that the country’s total population as of Dec 31 was 66,090,475d.
However, critics have pointed out that of the total, 983,994 people are non-Thai citizens, raising concerns about whether the move could inflate the number of MPs needed to represent a province. Some provinces, Chiang Mai for example, have a large number of non-citizens and stateless people.
EC secretary-general Sawaeng Boonmee explained during a recent seminar that the term ratsadorn or “citizen”, covers Thais and non-Thais, with the latter required to meet a set of criteria specified in the civil registration law.
He insisted the term does not cover legal migrant workers because they do not meet the criteria, stressing that in any case all non-Thais are not allowed to vote in national elections.
“The non-Thais who are counted as ratsadorn under the civil registration law work here and pay taxes,” Mr Sawaeng said. “The number of people in this group is used to determine the MP ratio to population only. They do not have the right to vote.”
He said the same formula was used in the previous election.
It remains unclear whether the EC will submit the matter to the Constitutional Court for a ruling as suggested by some concerned parties, including Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.
Mr Sawaeng also said the EC has corrected the problems it encountered when reporting the vote tally in the 2019 election, adding that its counting system will be fast and accurate this time around.
During the 2019 poll, the public complained about issues with the EC’s vote count report. The EC blamed cyber attacks for a system crash but admitted that some polling staff had made errors when compiling votes.
When asked if the poll date would still be May 7 if the House is dissolved dnext month, Mr Sawaeng said the EC has been preparing and it must be ready whether the dissolution happens or not.
Speculation is rife that a House dissolution will be called by the middle of March and the general election will subsequently be held on May 7.