Political Risk Analysis - Election Announcement Credible But Return To Civilian Rule Less So - DEC 2017
BMI View: We believe that Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ' s recent announcement of a return to elections in November 2018 is the most credible yet, given the return of political and economic stability. However, a return to full civilian rule seems highly unlikely and Prayuth appears to be positioning himself to remain in power in some capacity. Nonetheless, our short-term political risk index faces downside risks as protest activity may resume as curbs on civil liberties are eased as elections approach.
Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced on October 10 that the country will hold general elections in November 2018, which marks the most precise date given since the military took power in the May 2014 coup. Prayuth also noted that the exact date would be announced in June 2018. The so-called National Council for Peace and Order has repeatedly pushed back the return to civilian rule - elections were originally slated to be held by the end of 2015 - due to the time required to push through constitutional amendments and also the passing of King Bhumibol in October 2016, and we have cautioned against expecting a speedy return to democracy. However, with year-long mourning period over the King's death coming to an end, the royal transition proceeding smoothly, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra joining her brother Thaksin in exile, and political and economic stability returning to the country, we believe that the election schedule seems much more credible this time around.
The announcement came a week after Prayuth met with US President Donald Trump at the White House, with the associated press release reading 'President Trump welcomed Thailand's commitment to the roadmap, which, upon completion of relevant organic laws as stipulated by the constitution, will lead to free and fair elections in 2018'. The roadmap relates to a series of organic laws that Thailand's military government needs to pass before holding an election, a process that is likely to take another at least 12 months.
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