Wednesday, May 13, 2009

1997 electoral changes

Another posting based on information from the book Democracy, Development and Decentralization in Provincial Thailand by Daniel Arghiros, this time the many changes in the electoral policies with the constitution of 1997. Some however have been changed again with the 2007 constitution. Though not all of these changes are directly covered by the constitution but separate laws, they are all somewhat connected.
  • The constituencies were changed to have each one winning candidate - in the past and again since 2007 constituencies had one to three winning candidates depending on their size. This move was motivated to make the member of parliament more involved with his constituency. Often the second or third candidate was much less known and often only elected because he was the running mate of the prime candidate.
  • No more vote counting in the polling station, but instead all ballot papers are collected at the constituency center and counted there. This was done to stop village headmen to be vote brokers, as now they cannot use the results of their polling station as proof of their success.
  • Introduction of the election commission (EC) to supervise election and issue the red an yellow cards to those found guilty of fraudulent actions like vote buying. For the first 10 years it was only responsible for the national election, since 2007 also for the local elections.
  • Voting became mandatory. In the past high voter turnout was result of successful vote brokers, especially in the non-local elections where the villages usually don't know much about the candidates and what they stand for.
  • The senate was recreated and for the first time became fully elected. In 2007 this was partially reverted to 76 elected and 74 appointed senators.
  • The introduction of the subdistrict administrative organizations (TAO) as new elected councils, taking over parts of the responsibilities of the provincial administrative organizations (PAO).
  • Limiting the terms of village and subdistrict headmen to five years instead of until retirement age.

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