Parties set sights on regime buzz words
EC to approve or reject bids within 30 days
New political parties are expected to emerge, some of which want to cash in on the government's development agenda, as political and pressure groups seek to register as parties on Friday.
The Election Commission (EC) on Friday is to begin the first political party registration since 2014. It will last until March 31. Political activists are expected to try and apply to form political parties.
However, at this stage, the registration only involves political groups submitting the party names and logos of their choice. The EC will then check its database to make sure there are no duplications before approving their requested names and party logos within 30 days. After the applications are accepted, political groups must find the required number of 500 people and submit a request to the NCPO to hold a general assembly.
They are required to select a party leader and executives and write a party manifesto and regulations for submission to the EC for consideration before their party status is endorsed. The entire process must be completed within 180 days.
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According to a source at the EC, a survey by media outlets shows that several groups want their party names to include the words "Pracharath" (people-state partnership) or "Thai Niyom" (Thai-ism) -- from the government's key development schemes which are now becoming popular catchphrases among the people.
The political activists believe that the use of these words will have a psychological impact on voters as there are many who benefit from these projects. Furthermore, this could lead people to believe that the newly-registered parties have the backing of the government, the source said.
The survey has also categorised political groups seeking to set up parties according to their specific purposes. The first category are those seeking to form parties with a clear intention of supporting the National and Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the source said.
He said they include a group seeking to register as the Pracharath Party which is speculated to include key figures from the government and the NCPO. Speculation is rife that Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatursripitak, who is the head of the government's economic team, will be the party leader.
The planned setting up of the Muan Maha Pracha Chon Party pushed by Suthep Thaugsuban, former leader of the defunct People's Democratic Reform Committee is also meant to back Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to return as an outsider prime minister after the general election, he said.
Former senator Paiboon Nititawan is establishing a party which will be registered as the People Reform Party and will also support Gen Prayut making a comeback as premier.
Another category are groups which will set up parties with the hope of joining an NCPO-sponsored government after the election.
Among them is a political group which will register as the Pheu Chart Thai Party. The group is led by Amphaphan Thanetdejsunthorn, former wife of the late military strongman Gen Sunthorn Kongsompong, who led a coup that seized power from the Chatichai Choonhavan government in 1991.
Another category are groups of several former MPs who are confident they will still enjoy support in their strongholds and will win enough seats in the party list system. Their new parties are ready to join any side that will give them the best political offer.
Among them is the Phalang Phonlamuang group led by Samphan Lertnuwat, who is seeking to register a party under the name Phalang Phonlamaung Thai, which brings together several former MPs in the Northeast.
There are also existing parties which decided to cease operations and seek to register as new ones to avoid problems stemming from the organic law on political parties being amended by a Section 44 order issued by Gen Prayut in his capacity as the NCPO chief on Dec 22 last year, the source said.
The contentious issues stemming from the amendment of the organic law are related to members of parties being required to produce letters to confirm their membership and pay party fees within 30 days of April 1 or lose their status.
Some established parties which do not have the deep pockets necessary to filed candidates in all constituencies also plan to merge into a single party -- a loose grouping made up of several factions.
They hope the move will bolster their chance of having candidates in all constituencies.
Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of Walailak University, said Thursday that new emerging parties are mostly a regrouping of "old familiar faces".
He said it will be hard for emerging parties to gain a foothold and find support given that established parties have already controlled vast support bases in much of the country.
He said there is nothing new to expect and the next election will not bring any change.