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Sun, March 11, 2007 : Last updated 19:47 pm (Thai local time)

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Home > National > Academics oppose multi-seat idea

Academics oppose multi-seat idea

Academics disagree with the idea of multi-seat constituencies, saying such an arrangement would erode equality rights.

Politicians, however, say multi-seat constituencies are not a problem, but they are concerned the bonds between MPs and voters would be weakened in large constituencies.

Thammasat University law lecturer Prinya Thewanaruemitkul said he disagreed with multi-seat constituencies, because the system was based on population and not on the equality of people.

"Some provinces, such as Ranong, which has a lower population than other provinces, would get only one MP, but constituencies in larger provinces like Nakhon Ratchasima would get three MPs," he said.

The single-seat constituency system was used in the 2001 election.

Charter drafters on Wednesday agreed to adopt the multi-seat constituency system, which means each province will have at least three members of Parliament. The system was used in the general election in 1995 until it was later changed.

The drafters said the system could prevent vote-buying, but the lecturer disagreed. He said whether it was a multi- or single-seat constituency, vote-buying would still be a problem.

Prinya said he understood the drafters wanted to increase the chances of small parties gaining seats in Parliament. "The single-seat system did make major parties strong, while smaller parties had few chances to win," he conceded.

Prinya suggested that if the drafters wished to adopt multi-seat constituencies, they would have to keep the party-list system, in order to ensure equality.

He said if the multi-seat constituency system were used in the next general election, Thailand would see a coalition government. This would cause problems in

running the country, although

it might also lead to less corruption, because the government could

be checked on more easily.

Panas Thassaneeyanont, a drafter of the 1997 charter, agreed with Prinya. He said the multi-seat system would not be desirable, because voters in smaller provinces would be represented by only one or two MPs, while larger provinces would have three. People might question why they did not have three MPs like in the larger provinces. "This will become a problem, because it reveals a lack of balance," said Panas.

He said the current drafters wanted to see a coalition government after witnessing how the single-seat system helped the Thaksin government become so dominant. But there was no system that could prevent vote-buying.

"There is no way to solve the problem of vote-buying, no matter which system is used," he said. But he added that payments for votes might be less with the single-seat system.

Chiang Mai University law lecturer Somchai Preecha-silpakul said the move was a step backwards. The 1997 drafters had used the single-seat system to prevent local capitalists from running in the election.

Mahachon Party deputy leader Akapol Sorasuchart said his party had no problem with the multi-seat system but that MPs might not be able to take care of their constituents properly, because the constituencies would be larger.

"The bond between MPs and voters will not be as close as in single-seat constituencies," he said.

He said multi-seat constituencies benefited small parties and that it was the duty of the Election Commission (EC) to issue a rule controlling candidates' finances for the election. Further, he suggested the EC tell political parties how many candidates they can field in each constituency.

Sucheera Pinijparakarn

 The Nation

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