This Sunday, 20th December, Thailand will see the first ‘local election’ to be held since the 2014 military coup that took over the government.
Voting is compulsory for Thai citizens. Although failing to vote doesn’t carry a fine, a person could lose up to six citizen’s rights for not casting a ballot.
Although often referred to as a ‘local election’, a term many foreigners may expect may expect means at a municipal level, in this case ‘local’ means at the provincial level with the election being for members of the Provincial Administration Organisations (PAO), rather than for municipal positions. The local mayoral elections are due to be in March or April next year.
Thailand’s Election Act was revised in September 2018, banning alcohol during elections. Reports suggest that Thai authorities decided to ban alcohol during elections to prevent voting manipulation and bribery. Apparently, canvassers used to throw parties right before the election (or possibly during) to get more votes.
Prohibitions are usually for 24 hours. This means the bans are likely to apply from 6 PM on Saturday 19th December until 6 PM on Sunday 20th December although official announcements have not yet been made.
Such a ban will mean sales of alcohol will be illegal including at supermarkets, convenient stores, bars, nightclubs or other entertainment venues. The penalties available include up to six months in prison or a fine up to B10,000, or both.