Thai parliament to deliberate draft amendments to election, political party laws
Members of Thailand’s House and the Senate are scheduled to deliberate 10 draft bills attached to the electoral and political party acts today (Thursday) and tomorrow, as a key senator has hinted that one of the draft bills, proposed by the opposition Pheu Thai party to pave way for outsiders to dominate a party, will be rejected by the Senate.
Senator Wanchai Sornsiri said that the Pheu Thai party’s draft, which seeks to remove Sections 28 and 29 of the Organic Act on Political Parties regarding interference in the affairs of a party by outsiders which may subject the party in question to dissolution, is premature and may lead to political conflict.
The opposition party earlier dismissed the notion that the party intends to pave way for exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to interfere with the internal affairs of the party. It maintains, however, that Sections 28 and 29 are not fair and open to a broad interpretation that even accepting 10 million baht in donations may result in the party being dissolved, as such an act may be interpreted as the party being dominated by an outsider.
Senator Wanchai made clear, however, that most senators will vote for four draft bills concerning the election of MPs. For the six other drafts, they will accept those concerning the two-ballot electoral system, the number of constituency and party-list MPs and the need for primary elections.
He dismissed speculation that the senators may reject the two-ballot electoral system and revert to the one-ballot system for both the constituency and party-list MPs.
The two-ballot system is believed to benefit major parties when it comes to parliamentary seats won in a general election, while the single-ballot system, implemented in the 2019 general election, helped small parties gain seats they may otherwise not get under the two-ballot system. The 2019 election saw several “micro” parties gain one seat each and the now-defunct Future Forward Party become unexpectedly successful. The party was dissolved by the Constitutional Court over loans from then-party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.
Another key senator, Gen. Lertrat Ratanavanich also dismissed speculation that senators will vote down all the ten drafts.
Opposition and Pheu Thai party leader Chonlanan Srikaew said that all the opposition parties have agreed to accept the ten drafts as a matter of principle and, if they are to be amended, it should be done during the scrutiny period.
Chonlanan insisted that the party’s draft does not aim to delete Sections 28 and 29 of the Political Party Act, as suspected, but reminded the party that the two sections are problematic and are open to abuse.
Dr. Ravee Matchamadol, of the New Palangdharma party, said that the smaller parties, most of which have just one seat in the House, will vote against all the ten drafts.
Government whip Chinnavorn Boonyakiat also dismissed speculation that parliament may revert to the single-ballot electoral system.