Friday, August 14, 2020

Six years after coup, local elections still not in sight

Jun 08. 2020
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By The Nation

Pressure is growing on the government to organise local elections, a year after the Prayut administration came to power.

In normal circumstances, the Interior Ministry begins organising votes to elect 97,940 local representatives in 7,852 locations nationwide within six months of the government’s establishment.

Responding to pressure from local politicians and the Local Government Organisation Committee, Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paochinda this week explained that elections also had to cover 44 provinces that were home to small villages with fewer than 25 residents.

He said Bangkok and Pattaya were ready to hold local elections, with budgets of Bt240 million and Bt1.2 million respectively. However, two of the 76 Provincial Administrative Organisations (PAO), 51 of the 2,399 municipalities, and 97 of the 5,227 Sub-district Administration Organisations were not yet ready to hold voting.

“The Cabinet has to subsidise Local Government Organisations that cannot pay for an election,” he said.

“Therefore, the Election Commission must ask for budget approval from the Cabinet and then wait for the Interior Ministry to schedule the election, before the Commission can choose the dates for each location.”

Gen Anupong added that seven documents governing local elections would empower the Cabinet to make decisions related to the pandemic and disease control.

With no local elections for six years, since the coup and power seizure by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), several local governments have exceeded their tenures and are operating in an “acting” capacity”. The local elections will see fierce battles between the major political parties for control over the powerful roles of Bangkok governor and chief executive of the PAO.

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