Thai election in limbo as preparations halted

The Department of Provincial Administration issued a circular letter to provincial registrars yesterday telling them to hold back on their preparations for the upcoming general election, because the Election Commission says the Royal Decree has not been issued.

The letter was issued by the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA), signed by Venus Seesuk, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Central Registration and sent to local registrars and the Bangkok registrar yesterday, 7 January 2019. Following a previously issued letter telling registration offices to start preparations for the upcoming general election, DOPA now asks local administrators not to move forward with the preparations until informed otherwise, as the Election Commission (EC) has informed the Department that the Royal Decree for a general election has not yet been issued.

On 4 January 2019, Thairath Online reported that EC Chair Itthiporn Boonprakong said that the EC was informed of the details regarding the preparations for King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s coronation and related activities by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam. Mr Itthiporn also said that the EC is fully prepared to organize the general election, and will set a date once the Royal Decree calling for the election has been issued.

Earlier today, Channel 7 news reported that Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paochinda  said that there is no hidden agenda behind the circular letter. The Ministry of Interior is responsible for civil registration and therefore is responsible for preparing the list of eligible voters, organizing polling booths, and informing heads of household. As the Ministry has been informed that the Royal Decree for the general election has not been issued as previously planned, preparations have to be deferred, Gen Paochinda said.

The 2019 general election was at first provisionally set for 24 February 2019, after having been postponed several times. After a 3 January meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam and the EC, it was delayed even further. So far, no new date has been announced. Meanwhile, demonstrations are being held calling for the government to honour their promise.