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Asean Affairs  29 November 2010

Thai court absolves ruling party

By  David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs     29 November 2010

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This afternoon four of six judges of Thailand’s Constitutional Court dismissed a case alleging electoral fraud against the ruling Democrat party, which currently heads a coalition government .

The Thai Election Commission filed the complaint against the party, charging that government funding given to the Democrats for “political development” had actually been spent on political advertising. The case was dismissed on the technicality that the Election Commission had failed to file the complaint within a 15-day time frame, as called for in the constitution.

The judges ruled that this fact alone disqualified the complaint. The substance of the case, the misappropriation of the government funds was therefore, not addressed by the judges. After a year of political turbulence, the decision must come as a year-end holiday gift for most Thai people, especially the business community.

Thailand’s economy, especially the tourism industry, which accounts for 8 percent of the economy, has taken deep hits this year. Along with other parts of the economy, a sense of stability has returned. A ruling against the Democrats would have created uncertainty.

The party leaders, including Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, would have been banned from politics for five years, a caretaker government would have had to be installed before new elections were to be held.

As it stands now, nothing has changed. There will be new elections in 2011 following dissolution of the lower house of Parliament. This will be determined by a timetable set up by the ruling coalition.

Although, normalcy might seem boring to many, for Thailand it comes as a welcome respite from this topsy-turvy year in Thai political life.


Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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