Asia Minute: Thailand Sets New Date for Election

Jan 24, 2019

Thailand's Parliament Building
Credit Sodacan / Wikimedia Commons

Many in the United States remain focused on the continuing partial government shutdown. But in some parts of the world, attention is shifting to news about elections. And that includes one country that hasn’t had one for nearly a decade.

Thailand’s government has re-scheduled a national election.

Thailand’s Election Commission says national voting will take place on March 24th . . . a month later than previously announced — and some eight years after the country’s last election.

The later date will leave enough time and focus on the coronation of the King, scheduled for early May, and a new government could be in place by mid-year.

Thailand has been under military rule since a coup in 2014 overthrew the country’s last elected government — under then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.  At that time, Prayut Chan-o-cha was the head of the army . . . which said it acted to restore order after months of street demonstrations.

He quickly became head of the military junta ruling the country, and was then appointed Prime Minister — in a government that banned political activity and even outlawed gatherings of more than five people.

Something to watch now is how open the political campaigning is allowed to be.

Prayut Chan-o-cha
Credit World Travel & Tourism Council / Flickr

A statement from the Prime Minister’s office said campaigning “can be undertaken,” but warned that “conflict and disputes that can create a political crisis, similar to those which have happened in the past, should not be allowed to reoccur.”

Democracy has had a checkered history in Thailand since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.

Since then, the military has seized power 12 times.