11 July 2024

The long-awaited easing of political restrictions imposed since the military came to power four years ago has finally come after Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha today exercised his executive power under Section 44 to allow political parties to engage in a range of political activities – but short of full-fledged election campaigning.

The order came only two days after HM the King’s endorsement of two organic laws on the selection of senators and the MP election.  Both developments are the strongest signals yet that general elections will take place as scheduled – most likely by early next year.

Prayuth’s order, which was published in the Royal Gazette today with immediate effect, will allow for a range of what it describes as “necessary activities” to enable political parties to begin preparations for elections.

They include holding general assemblies to elect party leaders and executive committees, recruiting of party members, communicating with party members on digital platforms, and offering views on drawing of electoral constituencies.

Though the order will give political parties more room to start working toward the elections, election campaigning is still not allowed.

The relaxing of the political restrictions will pave the way for the Election Commission to hold a meeting with political parties to discuss guidelines under the new constitution for the elections.  Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Thursday that the meeting is likely to take place on September 28.

Based on the timeframe spelled out in the Constitution, the first post-coup election should be held between the last week of February and the first week of May next year.