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Cablegate: Thai Election Candidate Registration Begins With

VZCZCXRO2087
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBK #5740/01 3122355
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 082355Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0579
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0019
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 5132
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 1965
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 3880
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 7924
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005740

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM TH
SUBJECT: THAI ELECTION CANDIDATE REGISTRATION BEGINS WITH
FANFARE

REF: A. BANGKOK 5667 (CAMPAIGN RULES EASED)

B. BANGKOK 5600 (MILITARY ELECTION INTERFERENCE)
C. BANGKOK 5578 (THAI ELECTION SEASON)
D. BANGKOK 5482 (ELECTION DECREE ADVANCES)

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Registration for 80 party lists seats to be
contested in the December 23 general elections began on
November 7, with 18 political parties and several dozen
candidates registering with the Election Commission of
Thailand (ECT). Political party leaders speculated on the
superstitious implications of an ECT drawing that determines
the numerical placement of parties on the ballot. The ECT
cautioned political parties against violating the
commission's strict campaign regulations, while an ECT
investigative committee considered the legitimacy of
accusations that the military plotted to impede the prospects
of the pro-Thaksin People's Power Party in the elections.
End summary.

PARTY LIST REGISTRATION BEGINS
------------------------------

2. (U) 18 Thai political parties and party list candidates
registered with the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) on
November 7 to contest 80 party list parliamentary seats in
the December 23 general election. According to the new
constitution, voters in each of eight geographic
constituencies will elect 10 party representatives to fill a
total of 80 proportional party list seats in the 480-member
House of Representatives. Political parties have until
November 11 to register to compete for these party list
seats. Seven of the largest parties registered to compete in
all eight constituencies, while the remaining parties fielded
candidates in only one to four constituencies. Some
political party leaders, many of them registered as
candidates themselves, organized campaign events prior to and
following their registration with the ECT.

3. (SBU) On November 7, the ECT also drew lots to determine
the numerical placement of each registered party on the party
list ballot. The process attracted more attention than might
be expected, largely due to the implication of some numbers
in Thai and Chinese numerology. The Democrat Party tried to
make the best out of drawing the "unlucky" number (four)
which it had also drawn in a previous election, saying it
could now reuse old election posters to save money. The
leader of the Pracharaj party reportedly welcomed his drawing
of the "lucky" number nine as a "good omen." Chart Thai
leader Banharn Silpa-archa was visibly unhappy over drawing
number 13.

DODGING CAMPAIGN REGULATION LANDMINES
-------------------------------------

4. (SBU) As an indication of the inflexibility of many of the
ECT's strict election campaign rules (refs A and C), on
November 5 ECT Secretary-General Suthipong Thaweechaikarn
publicly warned candidates against "shouting for joy" should
they be pleased with their party's lot drawing. Suthipong
claimed such an exclamation may be considered
"entertainment," a restricted activity under campaign rules.
(Rules were loosened to permit the traditional musicians to
accompany the registration parade, however, and several
parties were accompanied by dragon dancers or long-drum
performers on he way to register.) The ECT Deputy
Secretary-General also threatened candidates with criminal

SIPDIS
charges should constitutionally unqualified individuals file
their candidacy with the ECT. (Note: The new constitution
specifies several age, nationality, and education-related
requirements for members of parliament. End note.) The ECT
said it would review all candidate registrations to ensure
candidates were legally qualified to contest the elections.

5. (U) On November 6, the ECT announced it could not approve
the selection of Prachai Liewpairat as the leader of the

BANGKOK 00005740 002 OF 002


Matchima Thippatai party since Prachai's selection had not
been undertaken by secret ballot as called for under the law.
ECT Chairman Apichart Sukhagganond advised the Matchima
Thippatai party to refrain from breaking campaign rules by
publicly identifying Prachai as the leader of the
organization until the ECT approved his selection as party
leader.

INVESTIGATION OF CAMPAIGN VIOLATION BEGINS
------------------------------------------

6. (SBU) The head of an ECT investigative committee formed to
investigate October 23 accusations by pro-Thaksin
People's Power Party (PPP) leader Samak Sundaravej that the
Council for National Security (CNS) plotted to impede his
party's election prospects announced it expected to complete
its investigation prior to the December 23 elections. The
committee said it would consider the legitimacy of allegedly
leaked RTG documents that purportedly prove the CNS planned
to use the military to limit voter support for the PPP
(reftel B), and would recommend punitive actions should the
documents be proven to be legitimate.
BOYCE

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