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Parties gather the faithful to reaffirm membership

Posted by pakin On April - 2 - 2018

YESTERDAY marked a milestone for Thailand’s existing political parties, who were allowed to start reaffirming their membership lists, and their leaders began declaring their new policies, with an emphasis on the lingering military influence.

While the Democrat Party, many of whose former MPs joined the whistle-blowing protests that preceded the 2014 coup, held firm that it would not support Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha remaining in office after the election, the Bhumjaithai Party was reluctant to make its position clear.

“Party members would have to support the party’s leader, whoever he or she will be. Those wanting to support Prayut should choose the other way and not come here. There are many parties that would endorse such support,” Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday.

We would have to see how the military would enter [politics] and how many votes they would have [in the parliament],” he said.

According to the junta-written 2017 charter, the Upper and Lower Houses would jointly nominate the prime minister, who could be an “outsider”, if MPs could not agree over a list of three candidates for the top job.

Given the charter-invented mixed-member apportionment electoral system, it is very likely that the majority of MPs will be from diverse medium-sized and small parties, and the major parties will have a hard time to gain a parliamentary majority.

Senators will not only be wholly handpicked by the junta, but some of the seats in the Senate will be reserved for top-ranking military officers.

Political observers have said that such a scenario would weaken the power of the major parties while empowering the military in post-election politics.

The Democrat Party’s headquarters in Bangkok yesterday was buzzing with hundreds of former MPs and supporters visiting to reaffirm their memberships.


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