Asia-Pacific News

Thai vote official says new general election may be needed

A member of Thailand's Election Commission said it may prove impossible to complete this month's disrupted election and the whole vote may need to be re-run, implying many months more under a caretaker government with limited powers.

Action by anti-government protesters meant voting was scrapped or halted in about a fifth of constituencies,so there will not be enough lawmakers elected to convene parliament to vote in a prime minister.

Anti-government protesters chant slogans while preventing voting at a polling station in Thailand's general election on February 2, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.
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"If the situation continues like this, there is no way the election will be successful and we will not get the 95 percent of parliamentary seats needed," Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn told Reuters in an interview.

"We might have to sacrifice this election and call a new one ... The government will have to call a new election date and get the king's endorsement," he said.

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According to Somchai's reading of the constitution, voting has to be held on the same day throughout the country, so holding fresh votes would be illegal. The government contests that and wants the five-member Commission to ensure voting in the affected constituencies goes ahead as soon as possible.

Somchai doubted that was on the cards, given the opposition of the protest group, the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which wants political and electoral changes implemented before an election and rejected the Feb. 2 ballot.

"I've been to 12 out of 14 provinces in the south and the PDRC down there really won't cooperate. They are really against an election," he said.