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Yesterday, the Royal Gazette contained the announcement on the number of constituencies for each province for the long-delayed first election after the coup, to be held early next year (unless delayed again). While this might look like another big step towards getting ready for the election, in real it is nothing but publishing the result of a simple algorithm on how to spread 350 MPs over 76 provinces depending on their population, to make sure that each constituency has a similar number of eligible votes. As the number of constituency-based MPs changed from 375 to 350 as well as the population numbers changed since the last election, there are many provinces which will have a different number of MPs.

But in real this is just the minor part of the preparing the constituencies, running the algorithm is something done in few seconds. The real work is the definition of the constituencies themselves, splitting the area of each province into different parts having a similar population number. Even in those cases where a province has now the same number of constituencies as in 2013, the 2013 definition might have to get modified if the population within the different parts of the province has changed and would make the electoral weight of each vote too much differing. I only hope the commission has already started with that bigger task way directly after it was set up, and not waiting till the last laws for the election were officially signed - as knowing the constituency boundaries is important to start campaigning, or simply for the parties to select the candidates fitting for each constituency.
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Changwat, Amphoe, Tambon by Andreas Hörstemeier - 2M ago
The Department of Provincial Administration has uploaded a new version of their ID lists, dated from August 30. Comparing them with the previous version from December last year only shows two differences
As no new administrative units were created, its not surprising there were almost no changes. And apparently those new districts in planning did not receive a code yet - unlike in past when many of planned minor districts already had IDs but then weren't created.
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Changwat, Amphoe, Tambon by Andreas Hörstemeier - 3M ago
In the meeting number 35 on July 25th, the board to consider draft laws discussed the renaming of TAO Na Duang (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลนาด้วง), Na Duang district, Loei province to Kaeo Methi (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลแก้วเมธี). Its the first direct change to an administrative entity discussed in these board for a year when the merge of Wang Nuea was approved. Due to bad timing, I cannot read the transcript - law.moi.go.th is still inaccessible for me from Germany, and during my visit in Thailand recently I downloaded all the PDFs of the past year but this wasn't online then yet. Thus the announcement in the Royal Gazette will show whether the board approved the change or not.

The subdistrict Na Duang (ตำบลนาด้วง) is covered by two local governments, Na Duang TAO and Na Duang subdistrict municipality (เทศบาลตำบลนาด้วง). Thus this name change can either mean that the TAO will get upgraded to a municipality soon, or it simply to clean up the name ambiguities of the former sanitary districts in preparation of the proposed upgrade of all TAO to municipalities.

The name "Kaeo Methi" is the name of village number 5 of Na Duang subdistrict, which is also the location of the TAO office.
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Changwat, Amphoe, Tambon by Andreas Hörstemeier - 7M ago
The issue why the province governors are all appointed officials sent by the Ministry of Interior and not elected directly by the citizens of the respective province - like it is the case in Bangkok since 1972 - has come back into discussion as it is one of the campaign topics by the newly founded "Future Forward Party" for the forthcoming long-delayed election, as it is mentioned in this interview with the party founder.

The website isaanrecords has already followed up this interview with two articles on this topic. First, the summary of a talk by Tanet Charoenmuang given in Maha Sarakham in April, describes the history of the local governments in Thailand compared to the centrally controlled administration. Tanet was a strong proposer of elected governors for many years, and I really should get back to read more of his book "Thailand - A late decentralizing country" which contains his old publications on such topics.

In "Core arguments for and against elected governors", an anonymous author again states the administrative history of the provinces vs. the local governments by municipalities. Sadly, there is no comment possible at that posting, so I have to place my nitpicking here. The article states that from 1972 till 1994 there one one municipality in Thailand - which is wrong as there were already 119 municipalities in 1972. However, what is true is that Chiang Mai was the only municipality of "Thesaban Nakhon" level after Thonburi and Phra Nakhon were merged, and until Nakhon Si Thammarat was upgraded to this highest municipal level. The other odd statement in the article is that BMA is responsible for four provinces, but in real it is only responsible for the special administrative area of Bangkok, which is something like a province.

Whereas in Tanets talk the Provincial Administrative Organizations are mentioned, both articles don't mention that these local administrations were changed into fully elected bodies after the 1997 constitution. The the issue of elected vs. appointed province governors was in the political debate in the 1990s, yet the powerful Ministry of Interior at that time was able to block these proposals, and to get the topic from the agenda it gave the electorate these rather powerless local governments in parallel to the centrally controlled province administration.
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To round up the annual statistics announcements, today the Department of Provincial Administration did publish the numbers of administrative units. The numbers are as follows, with the 2016 numbers in brackets if there were changes.
  • Changwat: 76
  • Amphoe: 878
  • Tambon: 7255
  • Muban: 75032
  • PAO: 76
  • Thesaban: 2441
    • Thesaban Nakhon: 30
    • Thesaban Mueang: 198
    • Thesaban Tambon: 2233
  • TAO: 5333 (5334)
  • Special administrative units: 2
The only change at all is that one subdistrict administrative organization is gone, which was the merge of Wang Nua TAO and municipality. And as usual, there is still the odd discrepancy of one subdistrict which is not counted in this statistics, but still included in the population data.
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