EC seat move is hijacking

EC seat move is hijacking

Whether it is driven by a political agenda or incompetence, the Election Commission's (EC) decision on Wednesday to award one party-list MP seat to 11 pro-junta, small parties, whose popular vote total should not have made them eligible for one, seems like a hijacking of the seats which should have gone to other parties.

The EC, whose commissioners are appointed by the military regime's lawmakers, based its decision on a bizarre and widely criticised calculation formula.

The move, however, has political implications as it could change the face of the new government from an anti-junta alliance to the pro-regime camp. This decision is legally, politically and ethically wrong.

Thailand adopted the new mixed member proportional representation system for the March 24 general election.

Under this system, 350 MPs are elected from so-called "first past the post" voting. They only need to obtain more votes in their constituency than anyone else to win.

Then, another batch of 150 party-list seats is distributed to parties based on the proportion of their popular vote total.

The constitution's Section 91 and the election law for MPs' Section 128 clearly outline the way to set a minimum threshold of popular votes that a party should have for a listed candidate to earn a party-list seat.

Based on the popular vote results of the last polls, the threshold should be set at roughly 71,000 votes.

Under this rule, the parties from the anti-junta alliance should have won a small majority in the Lower House if they were granted all the party-list seats they were entitled to. They should be able to claim the right to form a coalition government.

But the EC has discarded such a possibility. It has opted for a different formula by simply granting one party-list seat to each of the 11 small parties even though their nationwide popular vote failed to reach the threshold of 71,000 votes.

Some of them gained even less than half of the threshold. Early reports suggest the parties are likely to align themselves with the pro-regime bloc.

The EC has failed to incorporate proportionality and fairness in the party-list seat distribution.

It has instead taken a risky step which could constitute malfeasance on its part. Many affected parties have lambasted its decision and have vowed to take legal action against it.

The EC's announcement took place on the same day that the Constitutional Court delivered a verdict which ruled that Section 128 of the election law does not contradict Section 91 of the constitution.

Some interpreted the ruling as giving the EC the green light for its controversial calculation formula. This interpretation is wrong. The ruling does not specify anything about the calculation.

The laws stipulate the threshold for a good reason. That is to prevent party fragmentation and small splinter parties from gaining representation they don't deserve. It is a universal principle adopted by other countries whose election systems are similar to Thailand's.

For example, Germany's election law stipulates that a party either needs to reach a 5% electoral threshold in party-list voting or they must have three constituency members elected if it is to enter parliament.

The EC's decision may help the pro-junta political camp gain more seats and win the right to form a government, potentially led by its prime ministerial candidate, incumbent Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. But it has distorted the principle of the law.

Editorial

Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : ploenpotea@bangkokpost.co.th


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