By KAS CHANWANPEN
Even if the allied parties had the same political roots, they still had different leaders and policies and hence would be considered different entities, according to deputy PM Wissanu, in charge of the government’s legal affairs.
“There’s nothing illegal about it,” he said. “If they have the capital and the capability, they can form more parties. It’s nothing strange. There have always been cases like that. It’s just that we never felt it was this obvious.”
Wissanu went on to say the move was clearly to collect as many votes as possible, but if they saw an opportunity to do so they were free to pursue it.
His comments came after the emergence of two political parties – Pheu Tham and Pheu Chart – who are believed to be allies of Pheu Thai. It has been said that these parties were created specifically to help Pheu Thai gain party-list MP seats.
The tactic of chasing party-list MP seats follows the introduction of a new election system – Mixed Members Apportionment (MMA) – in the new Constitution.
There is speculation that bigger parties such as Pheu Thai and Democrat might suffer a loss of MPs in the new system, while medium-sized parties could see a rise in their number of party-list members.
Under the new system, all votes will be counted when the MP seats are allocated to each party. If a party already has a number of constituency MPs, it is likely that it would not have the enough quota to also seat its list MPs.
One initial calculation has suggested that it will take about 70,000 votes to secure each seat.
Influenced by the MMA system, it is said that Pheu Thai might focus on winning constituencies, while its allies Pheu Tham and Pheu Chart would chase party-list MPs on their behalf.
Stithorn Thananitichot, an expert from King Prajadhipok’s Institute, explained that this model is possible because Pheu Thai is the only party that is likely to win a large number of constituencies.
Pheu Thai could forget about the number 70,000 votes to get a seat, he said, and simply focus on winning constituencies which actually only requires some 51,000 votes to win the seat, not 70,000. This would equate to the minimum number of votes achieving the greatest benefit, Stithorn explained.
“After all, it is one seat, all the same,” he said. “Then, Pheu Thai could give those 20,000 others to its allies in order to get the list MPs.”
He said he was basing his numbers on the statistics for the 2010 election, when Pheu Thai had 14 million votes and won 204 constituencies.
“With the single-ballot system, 14 million votes mean Pheu Thai could get 200 seats but Pheu Thai has the ability to win 200 constituencies already, according to previous statistics,” Stithorn explained.
“So, if on average it requires only 51,000 [votes] to win a constituency, then 200 seats would only require 10 million votes. It has four million votes that could be distributed to its allies that otherwise would be just a waste if Pheu Thai kept them.”
Stithorn also expected big-name politicians to stay with Pheu That as a constituency candidate rather than migrating to its allied parties since the party was already giving up on the list MPs to its allies. Although it might seem like a downgrade, he said being a constituency MP was still better than not being an MP at all.