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Vol. 24 No.4
October - December 2007

ISSN 0125-0159

Editor's Note
His Majesty the King’s Intellectual Property as a Tool of Development
Her Majesty the Queen’s Model Farms for the Secure Life of Her People
Arts & Style
The Supreme Artist Hall in Honor of the Genius King
In Focus
The Election That Return Democracy to the Nation
Reversing the Erosion of Muddy Coasts: A Breakthrough by Thai Experts
A Center for Holistic Medicine in Chiang Rai
Special Feature
PRD Museum and Archive: A Learning Center on the Early Stages of Broadcasting and Public Relations
A Greater Sense of Security on Samui Island
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The Election That Return Democracy to the Nation

Since Thailand changed its government in September 2006 and an appointed, interim government took office, many parties, including other countries, have been looking forward to a fresh election that will lead to an elected government in line with democratic principles. The interim government has actively taken the proper steps to organize the next election as soon as possible. These steps include the creation of the 2007 Constitution and campaigns for the referendum of the constitution on 19 August 2007. About 57 percent of the voters endorsed the new charter, and it has already been promulgated. As a result, the next general election is likely to be held by the years end.

Ahead of the next general election, the public should learn some of the new rules that govern the installation of the House, which are explained below.

There will be 480 House representatives. Of them, 400 will be elected from constituencies, and the remaining 80 will be elected through a proportional representation system, in province clusters. If not all 480 seats are filled in the first election but at least 95 percent of them, or 456 representatives, are elected, the House will be considered as starting to exist. However, new voting for the rest of the representatives must be completed within the next 180 days, and their term will end at the same time as that of the other representatives.

Each constituency will normally have three representatives. Any province that is represented by three House members is considered one constituency, but a province that has to be represented by more than three House members will have more than one constituency. If, however, there are not enough representatives for a constituency to have three House members, a constituency may then comprise one or two representatives. In the proportional representation system, all provinces will be grouped into eight province clusters, and each cluster is considered as a constituency, with 10 representatives. Each province cluster consists of adjacent provinces, and all province clusters have similar total populations. One province must be in a single constituency, not shared by two clusters.

In the constituency-based election, the number of candidates from each political party running in a constituency must equal the number of House seats in the respective constituency. For example, if a constituency has three representatives, a political party must field three candidates, not more or fewer. However, a political party need not run in all constituencies. A candidate must choose to run either in the constituency-based election or the proportional representation system, and every political party must base the selection of its candidates on equality of sex, among other factors.

In the constituency-based vote, the number of candidates an eligible voter may select equals the number of representatives in his or her constituency. For example, a voter in a constituency of one, two, or three representatives may cast one, two, or three votes, respectively. In the proportional representation election, each voter will choose one political party, and the 10 members from a province cluster will be in proportion to the number of votes for each party. Other rules for the next election are governed by one of the organic laws of the constitution, which deals directly with the election of House representatives and the installation of the Senate.

The Thai democracy that will be restored places importance not only on people but also on political parties, because political parties will choose the House candidates and, if elected, will exercise national administrative power. Weak political parties might result in poor or ineffective democratization. It is often said that political development depends on the performance of political parties. In other words, sustainable democracy depends on the institutionalization of political parties.

Although a general election is essential, it is not the sole element of democracy, because an election means more than simply allowing the public to legitimately choose their national administrators. An election also enables communication between politicians and people in a way that promotes democracy. Prior to an election, politicians as well as political activists will encourage people to cast their votes, while the people have a chance to voice the demands they want their representatives to satisfy. The process will actively support public participation in politics, and it will be followed by the peoples right to examine and comment on the use of authority by the government. Public participation is a key element that the 2007 Constitution is promoting.

To ensure public participation and proper democratization, the interim government has laid down fundamentals that are designed for sustainable democracy. These fundamentals include the restoration of social unity and a fair election, in addition to public participation, which should see eligible voters exercising their right in the upcoming poll.

Story: Wudhichai Assawinchaichote
Photos: Nara J. and Office of the Prime Minister

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