It examines the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT), Thailand’s formally independent electoral management body (EMB), and the role it played in the 2019 election. Dr Petra Desatova and Assistant Professor Saowanee Alexander argue that in non-democratic regimes with high levels of political polarisation and entrenched elites, such as contemporary Thailand, formal EMB independence may become part of the problem why elections fail. It creates opportunities for long-term EMB capture by actors who wield power outside of formal politics and are unaccountable to public interest. In case of the ECT, this has led to the decreasing electoral standards culminating in the highly contentious 2019 election where the ECT’s administrative efficiency and effectiveness of voting came secondary to pleasing the entrenched old Thai elite. Its conduct has reduced Thailand’s prospects for a peaceful transition to democratic rule as those who oppose the country’s old elite have increasingly limited opportunities to challenge it through formal means.
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