Thailand tentatively prepares for return to democracy later this year

Thailand tentatively prepares for return to democracy later this year

Today, Thailand’s Electoral Commission will host some 58 aspiring political parties ahead of a ban on political activities being partially

Thailand-Protest-No-Coup-Anti-Junta-February-10-2018

Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun

Today, Thailand’s Electoral Commission will host some 58 aspiring political parties ahead of a ban on political activities being partially lifted on April 1.

Today’s meeting is expected to clarify what political actions will be allowed once the ban is lifted, although it is expected that permitted activities will be limited to updating party memberships and holding general assemblies. Repealing the ban continues the gradual process by Thailand’s junta government of allowing democratic participation.

Still, there are considerable doubts about whether elections will be allowed by Thailand’s junta leader, Prayut Chan-o-cha, in the foreseeable future. While the strongman has promised elections by February 2019, he has already postponed a vote several times. With protests building up against the junta, further delays could lead to violence.

Regardless, even if elections are allowed, any victorious party will need to be wary of displeasing Thailand’s military. Indeed, to avoid risking another military coup, Thailand’s next civilian government will need to limit its scope and power.