It will make them stronger and give democracy boost too, says CDC
Members of the Constitution Drafting Commission are convinced that their proposed new electoral system would help strengthen the political parties, as the number of seats they would get in the House of Representatives would better reflect their popularity among voters.
Chatchai Na Chiangmai, one of the 21 constitution drafters, told reporters yesterday that the drafters came up with the mixed-members apportionment system in order to ensure that every vote counted.
Under the MMA, voters are required to vote only once – for constituency MPs. The votes political parties get from all the constituencies would be calculated to determine the number of seats each contesting party got under the party-list system. The drafters have agreed to have 500 members of Parliament – 350 of them from constituencies and 150 from the party list.
Chatchai said that under the new system, the number of party-list seats would be based on the “popularity vote” percentage parties got.
In explaining why only one vote ballot would be used for both the constituency and the party-list voting, he said that unlike developed countries political parties in Thailand were weak and had no clear platforms in their election campaigning. He said the use of a single ballot would help strengthen parties and force them to be more choosy in fielding candidates.
He also tried to allay concerns that larger political parties might be at a disadvantage if this MMA electoral system came into effect.
“The popularity votes will be counted first. If they get more popularity votes, it means they have an advantage over smaller parties,” Chatchai said.
The charter drafter said that as the new MMA system was based on the support of voters, smaller political parties would have to adapt in order to gain more backing.
“This is real democracy. Parties with more popularity should get more MPs. Parties with less popularity get fewer MP seats. It’s fair, isn’t it?” he said.
There are concerns the new system would confuse voters, as votes from constituencies would also be counted as party-list votes, but Chatchai does not think it would.
He said the mass media should help the CDC change people’s way of thinking. “Many Thais normally stick to individuals [in politics],” he said. He said that in any democracy, political parties must serve as an institution and must create new breeds of politicians to make good policies. “If we use this new system for the next few elections, the political system will be better,” he said.
“Good people must find good parties to be affiliated [with]. This new system will help boost the strength and stability of political parties.”
Academic Sombat Thamrong-thanyawong, from the National Institution of Development Administration, warned yesterday that the MMA system could lead to weak coalition governments.
He said it was unlikely any political party would get majority control and there would be a need to form a coalition administration consisting of many parties.
Democrat Party deputy leader Nipit Intarasombat thanked the CDC for being open-minded and listening to the various suggestions given to it. He noted that CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan and other drafters had made major changes based on the suggestions they obtained.
The politician also called on the CDC to include in the new constitution a lifetime ban for election candidates found to have been corrupt while serving in public office.
Democrat politician Korn Chatikavanij yesterday met with the CDC to propose his personal suggestions about a new constitution, according to the commission’s spokesman Norachit Sinhaseni.
On Thursday, Korn wrote on his Facebook page that he agreed with the all-votes-matter principle. However, he said he saw it as problematic on many levels.