2018 election not guaranteed: Deputy Prime Minister

The next general election might be again postponed after a Deputy Prime Minister said that he is uncertain if the organic laws can be finalised within 2018.
 
On 5 September 2017, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan told the media at Government House that the next general election remains unscheduled as the drafting of organic laws is not yet finished. 
 
This statement contradicts the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) who announced a day earlier that the next election will be held in August 2018. The date was scheduled based on the junta’s so-called “roadmap to democracy” which plans to hold an election within 2018. 
 
Prawit, however, stated that the junta has never promised an actual election date and the roadmap was merely a guideline. 
 
Asked by the media whether the election will be held in 2018, Prawit simply said “I don’t know.”
 
Since the coup in 2014, the NCPO has repeatedly pushed back the date of the next election. Four days after the coup, the junta head promised that the country would return to democracy and have an elected government by July 2015. But in July 2015, elections were postponed after the first junta-written draft constitution was rejected by the junta-appointed National Reform Council.  
 
A new election date was scheduled after the junta’s second draft constitution passed a referendum in August 2016. According to the junta’s roadmap to democracy, elections were supposed be held in late 2017 after a royal endorsement of the charter scheduled for October 2016.  
 
But roadmaps are not timetables and the schedule was briefly disrupted by the death of King Rama IX on 13 October. The mourning period put off the question of elections for a month until the junta finally handed the draft charter to the new King on 9 November.
 
More delays were to come, however, after the new King demanded changes to the referendum-approved constitution. After the requested amendments and many months, King Vajiralongkorn finally endorsed the draft constitution on 6 April 2017. 
 
The junta’s lawmakers are now drafting four organic laws related to elections, involving the election of members of the lower house, the selection of senators, the Election Commission, and political parties. If any law is rejected, and some of their provisions are hotly contested, the election date will be postponed even further. 
 
According to the roadmap, the organic laws were to be finalised in late 2017 with the election held five months after they are endorsed. 
 
 
Gen Prawit Wongsuwan (Photo from Matichon)