Friday, December 06, 2019

New parties begin registering

Mar 02. 2018
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By Kas Chanwanpen
The Nation

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The Election Commission offices became lively on Friday morning as a crowd lined up to pre-register their new political parties, including some organisations already declaring clear stances in support of PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha keeping his job after the next election.

Pro-democracy group reportedly planning to enter the fray of party politics, in contrast have not yet been sighted in the pre-registration venue.

More than 40 groups had signed up for the initial registration kick-off on Friday as they seek official approval from the EC to be listed as a new political party.

The first group signing up came under the name Palang Chart Thai Party [The Thai Nation Power]. Its founding members had arrived at the EC office in the early morning hours before applications opened at 7.30am. The party would reportedly be led by Maj-General Songklod Thiprat, who formerly worked closely with the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

Spokesman Veera Raktham did not deny that the group would support Prayut as the next prime minister after the election. He said the party would make a future announcement after it was officially established.

Another of the first parties to pre-register was led by Paiboon Nititawan and called The People's Reform Party. Member Thanaphat Sukterm told reporters the group had not been formed particularly to support Prayut. Its purpose would be to reform the Sangha affairs, he said.

Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyagorn said the large number of parties seeking registration reflected the high degree of public interest at this moment in political matters.

However, he noted that not all pre-registering parties would succeed in being formally approved for registration as new parties. They must meet certain basic requirements, including signing up at least 500 party members and building a Bt1 million party fund based on a ceiling capped at Bt500,000 per founder. That last condition would be difficult to meet for prospective new parties, said Somchai.

New parties also need to request permission from the junta to allow them to hold meetings in order to work on their required administrative work, Somchai said.

“Whether [the junta] will allow parties to hold the meetings as requested, or not, is something that we at the EC have no idea [about], nor how long it would take.”

Parties wishing to contest in the election, most likely to occur in February next year, must finish pre-registration by next month. Further delays would leave them insufficient time to proceed with other requirements, including primary voting, said Somchai.

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