After the February 2 House of Representatives election the Election Commission refused to release any results, even though it was the nearest to a sure thing that here in Chiang Mai the Peu Thai Party would have taken all the seats with ease.
Following the March 30th Senate election a winner for Chiang Mai has been declared (Chiang Mai City News). Why the rush and why no wait for absentee votes this time when the turn-out of electors was a miserable 58%?
Were the commissioners perhaps hoping that a new Senate, still stacked with anti-government senators appointed by the military government which followed the ouster of the Thai Rak Thai government led by Thaksin Shinawatra, would be able to convene and impeach Prime Minister Yingluck over the controversial rice scheme?
Here below are figures taken from the Chiang Mai City News report presented in a table:
Number Voted – Total
% of “voting”
adding Informal & No vote
Sum of 3-9
That leaves Other 8 candidates votes
So how can one interpret the result of the election not just in the simple terms of what the law says but in terms of the principle of “Respect May Vote” ?
My first response was to look at the votes of the winner, recently Deputy Governor Mr Adisorn who had been endorsed by all the “Thaksin System” MPs of Chiang Mai. He scored less than 1 in 4 votes from electors who went to the poll. When one counts all the 1.25 million eligible voters only 1 in 7 voted for Adisorn. Moreover he scored less than 200 more votes than the 8 candidates not mentioned in the report. That’s certainly not what I would call a respectable vote.
Then looking at the result for runner up Mr Kritsanapong trailing by more than 50,000 votes, even less respectable but certainly a rejection of any claim by the Rak Chiang Mai ’51 group to represent Chiang Mai people. Will this lead ’51 to reconsider its approach to dealing with dissenting voices, will they or should they respect the vote?
In the US presidential election of Al Gore vs George W. Bush, Mr Bush was declared elected, despite his lacking a majority of votes. The Greens candidate, whose supporters would surely have preferred Gore to Bush was depicted as the spoiler, despite the fact that Gore meekly accepted the ruling of the conservative stacked Supreme Court, rather than fighting for a recognition of the will of the people. Gore failed to “Respect My Vote”.
The US result could not have happened in France or Russia where a run-off election between the two leading candidates is ordered if there is no absolute majority is the first round of voting. Approaching the extreme of fairness in elections is the Australian system which delivers the least dis-liked candidate to parliament**.
The Bangkok senate election result has been challenged despite the huge winning margin, so why not challenge the result here and have a strident debate of the bureaucrat’s Red vs the people’s Red? Is this what Kritsanapong has been thinking as his posters still were on the roadside on the Mae Rim Road five days after the election while the others vanished almost overnight?
Returning to the voting figures, between them the two Red candidates scored around 40% of the vote, which amounts to fewer than one in four eligible electors voting Red. This appears to destroy the myth that Chiang Mai loves the Reds, Thaksin or Yingluck who is struggling to survive attacks from the establishment.
However the comments above are based on a report which did not attempt to go into all the details of the election and appears to have some minor inconsistencies. One omission is that candidate Tavorn (why is his name not written as Tawon as it is said?) is the brother of a Peur Thai Party in limbo MP. So that appears to bring the Red vote to 52% ballots cast.
Considering the disarray within the Red camp, Peur Thai might be considering themselves lucky that the Army’s constitution delivered them a winner.
Perhaps some readers, like the writer, do not have the right to vote. Nevertheless we might hope that for the Thai electors we love, and even more so for their children, that the country develops a culture of criticism and unlike the Election Commission, a respect for us all. That includes MPs and Senators behaving as representatives for us all and making themselves accessible, for example opening an electorate office where any can come to seek representation.
* A report just in strengthens the hold of big money on the US political scene:
and as one reader responded: “Yes, and what’s more is that less than half of adults vote in gen. ‘elections’ in the US, so that 48.8% ‘winner takes all’ winner gets the ‘vote’ of far less than 25% of the adult population. It is minority rule. And of course the system only provides two ‘choices’ that are pre-selected by oligarchy. Elections Inc. in the US are merely the world’s most expensive PR stunt (and it’s big business).”
** The Australian system, has a common flaw with Thailand and the USA in a senate where the one person one vote rule does not apply. Also it appears to be unraveling with the appearance of a billionaire, with his own party rather than supporting establishment parties through donations, who appears to have the balance of power in the senate.