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Primary voting earns nod from Chart Thai Pattana

Jul 10. 2017
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By The Nation

The director of the medium-sized Chart Thai Pattana Party on Monday expressed satisfaction with revisions the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) has made in its recommendations on legislation regarding political parties.

But Nikorn Chamnong urged the ruling junta to also lift its ban on political gatherings so the parties can begin preparing for the new “primary voting” system under which MPs candidates for an election are to be primarily chosen.

The bill under consideration is to be submitted next to a newly established joint law-review committee. The proposed primary voting system has been its most contentious point.

The National Legislative Assembly endorsed the bill last month, but drafters of the law who question the constitutionality of any points can take their objections to the review committee.

CDC spokesperson Udom Ratamarit said on Sunday the commission had met with the NLA’s law-vetting committee and it was agreed that the primary voting system should be retained. 

He said the CDC believed the system would not require parties to have members in every constituency they contest, as some feared. It should be sufficient to have branches in each province or more than 100 members per province, Udom said.

He said the CDC also believed that, to shorten the primary voting process, the parties’ executives and selection committees should be allowed to choose their MP candidates by consensus, whether constituency or party-list, in the event that two or more candidates garner the same number of votes in primary voting.

The draft bill had originally stipulated that additional rounds of primary voting take place if any choices of MP candidates remained unsettled.

The bill makes parties responsible for managing their own primary voting, including dealing with any complaints and charges of corruption. 

Udom said the CDC believed that party leaders and other executive members found negligent in meeting that responsibility should face a Bt10,000 fine or six months’ imprisonment.

To make the system more flexible for the parties, he said, it would no longer be mandatory for them to name their leaders as their first party-list MP candidate.

He said the CDC was considering punitive measures for buying or selling votes during primary voting. Though the details have yet to be worked out, he said, it’s agreed that the punishment should be on a par with measures imposed for wrongdoing during a general election.

Udom also said the Election Commission should not have the authority to warn or suspend any candidate during primary voting.

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