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NLA overwhelming endorses Political Parties Bill

The National Legislative Assembly on Thursday (Aug 3) unanimously passed by 205 : 0 votes the controversial Political Parties Bill which, among others, mandates primary voting system in the selection of election candidates of all parties.

One highlight of the bill is that any candidate who cheat in the primary voting will face a jailterm from one to 10 years and will have his/her right to contest an election withdrawn. Also, the party leader and executive committee of the party whose candidate was found guilty of election fraud in the primary voting will face a jailterm of not exceeding six months and/or a fine of 10,000 baht for negligence. They may have their voting right withdrawn for five years.

Other party members who are involved in the primary voting cheats will be liable to 1-5 years imprisonment and/or a fine from 20,000-100,000 baht.

The bill, however, does not advocate the dissolution of the party.

The other highlight of the bill is that a party leader can contest in a constituency or contest under party list.

Under the bill, a party must consist of 500 founding members and must have 5,000 members within a year after its establishment. A party member must pay membership fee of 100 baht annually and a party must have a branch office in each of the regions.

Nikorn Chamnong, director of Chart Thai Pattana party, admitted that he was concerned with some provisions of the bill which, he said, could cause problems in the future.

Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, however, noted that the penalties for cheaters in primary voting and for those who do not adhere to the law should be separated.

The Political Parties Bill is the third organic law passed by the NLA. The Constitution Drafting Committee is currently drafting three other organic laws including the bills on National Anti-Corruption Commission, on election of the members of the House of Representatives, and on acquisition of senators.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)