Monday, August 27, 2007

Election Date Set

The pundits who had nothing to say about Thailand for last 5 years have lots to say about the referendum most of it negative. Well in any event the election date has been set.

Thailand to Hold Election on Dec. 23, Surayud Says

Thailand's junta-installed government set Dec. 23 for an election to regain foreign investors' confidence. Analysts said it would see politicians loyal to ousted Premier Thaksin Shinawatra win support.

An elected government will help ``bring Thailand back into the international community'' and restore confidence, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said when announcing the date today.

The military junta, which seized power in a September coup, hopes the election will lessen the political uncertainty that has hurt the economy. It justified the putsch by charging that Thaksin was corrupt and had ``destroyed'' Thailand's democratic principles and sponsored a new constitution curbing the powers of the prime minister.

``The election will be a battle for power between the previous administration and the military,'' said Suriyasai Katasila of the Campaign for Popular Democracy, an activist group that opposed Thaksin while he was in office. ``It will lead to more divisions rather than reconciliation.''

Thailand's consumer confidence declined in July to the lowest in five years as protests against the government and military led to the arrest of its main critics, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said Aug. 9. More than 40 protesters and police officers were injured at a July 22 demonstration involving as many as 5,000 people opposed to the coup leaders.

Thai Constitution

Thaksin's former party, disbanded by a junta-appointed court, won a two-thirds parliamentary majority when Thailand last voted in 2005. While Thais backed a new junta-sponsored constitution by 57.8 percent in an Aug. 19 referendum, it was rejected by 62.8 percent in 19 northeastern provinces.

Thaksin, through his spokesman Noppodol Pattama, last week called on the junta to stop its politically motivated asset seizures and charges against him.

The junta, which is seeking Thaksin's extradition from Britain, has no intention of staying in power after the new elected government is formed, army chief Sondhi Boonyarataklin said on Aug. 15 while campaigning for the new constitution.

``Thaksin continues to have strong support in the north and northeast, as shown by the referendum on the new constitution,'' said Chaiyaporn Nompitakcharoen, an investment strategist at Bualuang Securities Pcl in Bangkok. The election is likely to result in a weak government with a narrow majority, he said.

Political Deadlock

Most Thais hope the December election will help end the political deadlock of the last few years, Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the Democrat Party, said on his Web site Aug. 26.

The party, Thailand's biggest since Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai was disbanded, faces the People Power Party set up by supporters of the ousted premier in the election.

The party includes about 270 former lawmakers of the Thai Rak Thai party and is led by former Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej, who pledged to ``lead the fight'' against the ``abuse of power by the military.''

International monitors will be sought to prevent fraud during the voting, party spokesman Kedeb Saikrachang said today.