The general election, provisionally set for 24 February 2019, is most likely to be delayed to avoid conflicting with the coronation ceremony, says Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam. File/Royal Thai Government
Mr Wissanu met with the Election Commission on Thursday afternoon, after the Bureau of the Royal Household announced on New Year’s Day that the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn will take place on 4 – 6 May 2019. Mr Wissanu said that he had explained to the Election Committee that there will be coronation activities in the 15 days before and after the three-day ceremony, and that election activities should be scheduled to avoid overlapping with those of the coronation.
As dictated by the constitution, the general election must take place within 150 days of the election law taking effect on 11 December last year, or by 9 May 2019. It must also take place on a Sunday, so the last possible date is 5 May, colliding with the coronation. Yesterday, Mr Wissanu said prior to the meeting with the Election Commission that the election will take place within the 150-day window and before the coronation. In a statement earlier today, he suggested that the poll date may be delayed until late March to avoid conflicting with any coronation-related activities.
However, he declined to comment whether the government has ordered the Election Commission to postpone the poll date, since it is up to the Commission to decide on the appropriate timing.
The 2019 election, the first since the military government took over in 2014, has already been pushed back several times on the grounds of constitutional and legislative steps needed prior to a vote. As the royal decree calling for an election had not been issued on Tuesday as previously planned, critics of the military government are now concerned that the junta is deliberately using the coronation as an excuse to further delay the election for its own political gain.