New political parties seek change ‘but limited by junta’s legacy’

politics March 06, 2018 01:00

By KHANITTHA THEPPAJORN
THE NATION

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New political groups led by the anti-Shinawatra camp and the pro-democracy groups show that young people will bring significant change to politics, but very likely they will be restrained by the junta’s national strategy legacy and the 2017 Constitution, said veteran politician Nikorn Chamnong recently.



Meanwhile, Chaiyan Chaiyaporn, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, said groups’ interest in joining politics stemmed from the belief that the new Constitution would give them an opportunity and enable free and fair elections.

The comments came after the pro-democracy camp led by the young business tycoon Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and a pro-junta group led by Suthep Thaugsuban signalled they would enter the political arena to advocate their different agendas.

Chaiyan said the phenomenon was similar to events in 1992, when political parties were formed to support a military-influenced government. But this did not mean the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) held all of the advantages, he said. 

Nikorn, formerly a member of the National Reform Steering Assembly, said the ongoing pre-registration of prospective new political parties was one of the most interesting moments in politics, bringing significant changes with new potential parties from the pro-democracy and anti-Shinawatra camps.

However, politics would remain in a transition period with limitations on political actors after the election, he added. 

“The political groups of the younger generation who have dreams and desires for change will face impediments because of the national strategy and the reforms supervised by the [junta-appointed] senators,” he said. 

It would not be easy to formulate new policies, he added. 

For existing parties, Nikorn said there were fewer issues because they did not have to gather members or raise funds, he said. However, it was impossible to predict future politics, he said.

Democrat politician Thavorn Seniam said the large number of groups contesting the election showed that people were becoming more politically active. But only time would tell how much the new parties could actually achieve, said Thavorn, who is also a former leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

Answering the concern that smaller parties could be disadvantaged by the election laws, Thavorn said it was too late to make changes and there was no point to focus on it. 

Parties just had to follow the law, he said. The former MP said he welcomed everyone and hoped they would help push reforms that PDRC protesters had demanded. 

Meanwhile, Suthep Thaugsuban, also a former leader of the defunct PDRC, distanced himself from directly participating in politics without ruling out the possibility he would join a political party as a member if invited.

 Also a former Democrat Party politician, Suthep said yesterday he would not take any political positions nor sit on the executive board of any political party.

There would not be a PDRC party, he said, as that movement’s mission ended with its last protest in 2014. Other people had the right to form a new party, he said, but they could not claim to be the PDRC.

“After we’re done, we return to what we were,” Suthep said. “People go back to their jobs. Politicians go back to their parties. Those from Democrat Party go back to the party.”