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WEDNESDAY, October 05, 2022
nationthailand
NLA approves poll primary system

NLA approves poll primary system

THURSDAY, June 15, 2017

Political parties draft bill requires members to pay between Bt1,000 and Bt50,000 as seed funding.

A PRIMARY voting system, which would be critical in decentralising political party management, could be introduced in Thailand for the first time after the National Legislation Assembly (NLA) yesterday voted to include the system as part of lower house elections in the next general election.
The NLA also voted to make it mandatory for political party members to contribute Bt1,000 to Bt50,000 as seed funding for their parties.
The NLA held the second and third readings of the 142-article political party bill draft, one of four organic laws needed to hold an election. 
At the end of the meeting, the assembly passed the bill by 180 votes with three abstentions and one member not voting.
Originally drafted by the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), the bill draft was considered by the NLA’s law vetting committee after passage in the first reading, before it went through deliberations by the assembly yesterday.
The focus was on proposed amendments to the draft’s Article 47 and Article 9, which increased decentralisation in party management through changes in the origin of MP candidates and political parties.
The CDC’s version of Article 47 merely stipulated that any party wishing to nominate its members to MP candidacy must “hear opinions” from its own provincial branches or representatives.
The vetting committee’s amendments, meanwhile, specified that any party must nominate MP candidates who must be “primarily selected” from provincial party branches or representatives of where their electoral constituency is located.
The amendments cut the opinion hearing part out and said that all contesting parties must have provincial bases in their designated constituencies.
The vetting committee also proposed that any party not having sufficient seed funding must not be allowed to contest elections. This amendment, however, was dropped during the NLA meeting. The NLA’s earlier deliberation on Article 9 on the seed funding requirement also said that the amount must be no less than the budget for an MP candidate to contest elections in a constituency. 
According to the Election Commission’s (EC) latest requirement, the budget must be at least Bt1.5 million.
The Article initially written by the CDC stipulated that new parties should have seed funding of no less than Bt1 million, with each party member contributing Bt1,000 to Bt300,000.
The NLA’s legal vetting committee changed the CDC’s original clause – suggesting that the amount of seed funding be left open – during its scrutiny process following the passage of the law at the NLA’s first reading.
However, some NLA members, including Wallop Tang-kananurak, opposed the change proposed by the committee before it was passed by the NLA. 
“Requiring a certain amount of seed funding could help prevent financiers from overshadowing political parties from backstage,” said Wallop who wanted the ceiling to be lowered to Bt50,000.
Another NLA member, Somchai Sawangkarn, agreed with Wallop, adding that parties choosing to not have seed funding should not be given assistance from the EC’s political party development fund. They should also be prohibited from nominating MP candidates. 
“This is to ensure that parties truly want to participate in the political arena without a finance-based agenda,” he said.
General Somjet Boonthanom, who chaired the NLA committee vetting the political parties bill draft, said the committee had proposed not specifying the amount of seed funding to allow people with limited funding to participate in the political arena.
A total of 109 of 216 attending NLA members voted in favour of Wallop’s proposals.
The NLA also passed requirements that would increase party branches or representatives roles, adding to the original Article 48 that parties must distribute name lists of partylist MPs to the branches and representatives for considerations on regional and gender diversity.