Constitution virtually rules out opposition politics in Thailand

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Almost impossible for new political movements to establish now

The Thai Constitution Charter, that nobody read but voted in favour of, will virtually rule out opposition politics in the Kingdom in future. Despite the referendum now being months old the constitution is still being amended and altered in favour of the military regime.

The junta has finished the first draft of election regulations that come under the new constitution. It will be difficult for small parties to emerge under the new law, according to the drafter spokesman.

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On 7 December, the Constitution Drafting Committee published its first draft of the Organic Act on Elections, which is one of ten organic laws under the junta-backed draft charter.

Udom Ratammarit, the CDC spokesperson, stated that the Act aims to keep parties under the people’s control by stipulating strict requirements for the establishment of a party.

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According to Udom, a party needs to have at least 500 initial members and each member has to contribute between 2,000 baht–500,000 baht to start-up costs. A party needs to have 5,000 members within a year after establishing and 20,000 members within 4 years.

Each party must have a branch in all regions and must have at least 100 representatives in each province. Existing parties also have to comply with these requirements in order to run in an election.

Udom conceded that small parties will struggle to perform under this system, since meeting the requirements takes considerable organisation.

He suggested small parties establish themselves as ‘clubs’ through which to work with people first. They can then became an official party when they gain enough supporters.

The organic act also institutes four roles for political parties which are: ‘encouraging people to engage in democratic values and freedom of expression,’ ‘encouraging people to participate in politics and the checks and balances process,’ ‘providing a proper development plan for the country’ and ‘creating unity and reconciliation and encourage non-violent conflict resolution methods’.

Parties that fail to fulfill these roles will be punished. Possible sentences vary from revoking election rights to party dissolution. Other offences which could lead to party dissolution are ‘threatening the constitutional monarchy regime’ and ‘being controlled or influenced by non-member people.’

The CDC will host a public hearing on 14 December for comments. The draft’s full text will be published within the coming week, said Udom.

Report by Winston Smith (Political Correspondent) with information from Prachatai