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Cablegate: Thai Election Roundup: Disqualifications And

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DE RUEHBK #5914/01 3270950
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 230950Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0798
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0090
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 5208
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 7998
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 2001
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 3953
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005914

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DEPT FOR EAP/MLS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM TH
SUBJECT: THAI ELECTION ROUNDUP: DISQUALIFICATIONS AND
PREDICTIONS

REF: A. BANGKOK 5881 (OATHS AND INSULTS)
B. BANGKOK 5749 (ELECTION PLAYBILL)
C. BANGKOK 5740 (CANDIDATE REGISTRATION)
D. BANGKOK 5667 (CAMPAIGN RULES EASED)
E. BANGKOK 5578 (THAI ELECTION SEASON)

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Citing duplicate party registrations and other
procedural ineligibilities, the Election Commission of
Thailand (ECT) on November 21 disqualified 37 party list
candidates from 16 political parties from competing in the
December 23 elections. The ECT threatened legal penalties
against disqualified candidates who knowingly violated
election rules, while a few candidates vowed to appeal the
ECT decision to the Supreme Court. An Administrative Court
judge opined that a November 16 ECT decision restricting the
campaign activities of 111 former executives of the dissolved
Thai Rak Thai party had no legal force. Recent opinion polls
of questionable reliability mostly predict a strong showing
for the pro-Thaksin People's Power Party (PPP). End summary.

CANDIDATES DISQUALIFIED
-----------------------

2. (U) On November 21, the Election Commission of Thailand
(ECT) announced it had disqualified 37 candidates from 16
political parties who were competing for 80 party list seats
in the 480 seat parliament. News reports indicated that the
ECT disqualified 33 candidates for being simultaneously
registered with multiple parties, while other candidates had
allegedly violated election laws by registering to compete
for both party list and constituency seats in the December 23
elections. An additional candidate was allegedly not legally
resident in the district in which he had registered. The ECT
said disqualified candidates had seven days to appeal the
ruling to the Supreme Court.

3. (U) The ECT ruling affected the Ruam Jai Thai Chart
Pattana Party the most, as six of its candidates were
disqualified. The ECT disqualified three candidates from the
Matchima Thippatai Party and two candidates from the For the
Motherland Party, including one of the party's deputy
leaders. The ECT also disqualified one candidate each from
the pro-Thaksin People's Power Party (PPP) and the Pracharaj
Party. The remaining disqualified candidates belonged to
lesser-known parties. Several of the disqualified candidates
publicly indicated bureaucratic errors led to their
disqualification, which they promised to appeal. On November
20, an ECT official said disqualified candidates who
knowingly violated election laws could face 10 years
imprisonment, fines of up to 200,000 baht ($6,000), and a
10-year revocation of voting rights.

FALLOUT CONTINUES FROM ECT POLITICAL BAN
----------------------------------------

4. (U) Following the November 16 ECT "advisory" ruling
prohibiting the 111 executive members of the dissolved Thai
Rak Thai (TRT) party from participating in the December 23
election campaign (reftel A), many of the "banned" TRT
executives indicated they would challenge the ECT decision in
Thailand's Supreme Administrative Court. On November 20,
Akkarathorn Chularat, the president of the Supreme
Administrative Court reportedly commented to the media that
the ECT ruling was not legally enforceable as he did not
consider the ruling an official administrative order.
Akkarathorn added that disputes arising from the ECT
restrictions should be settled in court. On November 22,
some banned politicians lodged a complaint with the regional
representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights alleging the ECT order violated their rights to
freedom of expression.

OPINION POLLS PREDICT PPP PLURALITY, VOTE-BUYING
--------------------------------------------- ---


BANGKOK 00005914 002 OF 002


5. (SBU) During the past several weeks, the media have
reported on a slew of pre-election opinion polls. The polls
have come from a variety of sources, including academic
institutions, political party-funded internal polling, and
(allegedly) the military. The poll results generally confirm
the commonly held view that the PPP will win the most seats
in the parliament and that vote-buying is expected ahead of
the elections. (Comment: Relatively few polling
institutions in Thailand are considered to adhere to the
highest standards of professionalism, and all poll statistics
should be considered with skepticism. End comment.)

6. (U) The following are noteworthy results from recent polls
(Note: 240 seats are needed to form a government in the
480-seat parliament. See reftel B for post's unscientific
seat projections. End note):

-- A Bangkok University poll of 1,507 people in 16 provinces
(out of a total of 76) conducted November 16 - 19 predicts a
92% turnout on election day. 46% want Democrat Party leader
Abhisit Vejjajiva to be Prime Minister while 23% support PPP
leader Samak Sundaravej. Only 37% of respondents believed
the elections would be free and fair.

-- A nationwide Suan Dusit Rajabhat University poll (sample
size unknown) conducted November 1 - 10 predicts the PPP will
win 180 seats compared to the Democrat Party's 160 in the new
parliament. Only 3% believe the government will be
successful in eradicating vote buying ahead of the election.

-- A poll allegedly sponsored by the Thai Army's Internal
Security Operations Command (ISOC) predicted that the PPP
would win up to 280 seats in the parliament while the
Democrat Party would win 125 seats. On November 16, an ISOC
spokesperson insisted the leaked figures were from internal
Army projections rather than scientific polling.

-- A Ramkhamhaeng University poll of 1,464 Bangkok residents
conducted on November 8 showed strong support for the
Democrat party among capital dwellers, with 52% supporting
the party and 14% planning to vote for rival PPP. 71%
indicated they intended to vote on election day.

-- Press reports on November 22 indicated an internal PPP
poll predicted the party would win 165 of the 400
constituency seats in the new parliament. The press reported
that a November "For the Motherland Party" internal poll
predicted the party would win 80 seats.

-- An ABAC/Morality Center poll of the Bangkok metropolitan
area conducted from September 20-26 concluded that 53% of
respondents would support a corrupt government if "that
government would make them happy."

ENTWISTLE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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