New law on political parties advances democracy roadmap
Political parties with as few as 500 dues-paying members will have the ability to register and compete in elections under a new organic law on political parties that contains relatively easy conditions to meet and was put forward by the Kingdom’s charter drafting committee last week in the latest milestone on the government’s roadmap to build a sustainable democracy.
The National Legislative Assembly has begun consideration of the bill, which is expected to pass. Thai voters across the nation convincingly passed a new constitution in the second half of 2016 in one of the most important steps on the roadmap to democracy. The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) and the legislature are now engaged in the process of drafting the necessary organic laws to pave the way for national elections for a new government sometime in late 2018.
Organic laws contain the nuts and bolts provisions for holding elections and other governing processes, whereas the constitution sets the broad boundaries and principles for doing so.
Prior to the publication of the bill, several politicians and academics had expressed concern on certain conditions which proved unfounded, however, when the new bill was unveiled. The Nation newspaper reported that the six requirements contained in the bill are:
To qualify to field candidates, executive members and other members of existing political parties have to report to the Election Commission (EC).
Second, political parties have to update the number of their members within 90 days after the new law goes into effect.
Third, political parties that do not have a minimum membership of 500 people have to meet the requirements within 180 days.
Fourth, political parties will have to submit financial reports to the Election Commission and/or solicit minimum funding of $29,000 within 180 days.
Fifth, a minimum of 500 members must pay the party’s annual fee of at least $1.45 per person within 180 days and receipts must be shown to the Election Commission within the next 15 days. Within the next year, each party has to collect annual membership fees from a minimum of 5,000 members.
Sixth, political parties must hold a general assembly to amend their charters and regulations in compliance with the political party law, covering political objectives and the process to elect party leaders and executive committees as well as the heads of party branches.
Royal Thai Embassy, Washington, D.C.