Joining parties to get easier

Joining parties to get easier

Panel lowers bar to admit some convicts

A parliamentary committee vetting a bill to amend an organic law on MP elections has agreed to lower requirements for political party membership applications, with convicts having jail terms suspended to be allowed to join parties.

The committee yesterday discussed a proposal put forward by Anant Amnuaypol, a Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) MP for Kamphaeng Phet, who sought an amendment to allow people a greater opportunity to become party members, instead of applying the same strict criteria as those for selecting party founders and cabinet ministers.

The majority of committee members approved the proposed change with a vote of 23 to 21, with two abstentions.

Under the proposal, people who were convicted and had a jail term suspended for committing malfeasance as a state official or a justice official or violating laws governing state officials' offences or offences related to assets and property, would be allowed to apply for party membership.

Narong Boonsuaykwan, a PPRP MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat and a committee spokesman, said the change would encourage public participation and pave the way for more people to become political party members.

"If we don't set the bar too high, people will keep coming in. There are several parties in Thailand and more people should become party members," Mr Narong said.

Pheu Thai MP for Ubon Ratchathani Somkid Chueaknong, another spokesman for the committee, said the committee also deliberated a bill to amend the organic law on political parties.

It approved a change to Section 35 of the law which is related to the primary vote system.

Under the section on the organic law, parties which want to field candidates in the constituency system must set up branches or appoint representatives in each of the 400 constituencies. Parties must also field candidates in the constituency system who are nominated by the branches or representatives.

Critics are concerned that a primary vote is a time-consuming process that will prove costly to parties and leave little time for them to prepare for the next election.

Also, primaries would put small parties at a disadvantage due to their limited resources for establishing branches and bringing in members. Under the change, parties would only need to appoint one representative in each of the 77 provinces, instead of each constituency.

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