Court to give rulings on election bills

Court to give rulings on election bills

The Constitutional Court has accepted for consideration two controversial organic bills on the election of MPs and political parties.

The decision was announced by the Office of the Constitutional Court on Wednesday. It has instructed petitioners to present essential documents to back up their calls for a constitutionality interpretation of the relevant bills within 15 days.

The petition for the bill on political parties was signed by 77 senators while the petition on the election of MPs bill was backed by 105 MPs and senators.

They asked the Constitutional Court to establish if the bills contravened the charter or were unlawfully amended.

The organic bill on the election of MPs failed to meet the amendment deadline in parliament, forcing the adoption of the list MP calculation method proposed by the Election Commission involving the use of the number 100 in calculating list MPs in the next election.

Many small parties opposed the 100 divisor, preferring instead the use of 500 for the calculation. They believe 500 as a divisor would give them a better chance of winning list seats.

Meanwhile, the bill on political parties ran a serious risk of violating the constitution, according to critics.

Among the sore points is a substantial cut in the annual party membership fee from 200 baht to 20 baht. Also, the bill had been modified so that individuals who have served prison time are also eligible for membership. The pre-scrutiny version of the bill excluded those with a criminal record from joining a party.

It also came under fire for allegedly making the selection of party candidates for elections -- primaries -- off-limits to party members.

The bill was originally meant to make primaries accessible to party members in keeping with the participatory approach to democratising a party.

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