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Thai Political Parties

Allen Hicken argues that contemporary Thailand is " ... an environment with strong partisan identities, compared to the earlier environment of candidate-centered voting. This change in the nature of partisanship has been the catalyst that has turned long-simmering tensions into an increasingly intractable political conflict. This mass partisan alignment has upset the equilibrium of Thai politics transforming what was once an inefficient but modest-stakes game of political horse-trading into a zero sum game with extremely high stakes."

Thai political parties are not disciplined cohesive national entities with strong party labels. Factions within Thai political parties are informal groupings, so most figures for faction membership are estimates rather than hard numbers. Until recently, discerning meaningful differences between most parties, apart from the identity of leading figures, was nearly impossible. The Thai political party system has continued to evolve, albeit spasmodically. It has made the transition from its past status as an adjunct to the bureaucratic establishment to a more substantial role as a channel for popular representation and a provider of top political executives. But the country's multiparty system continues to suffer from traditional long-standing problems. These included organizational frailty and lack of discipline, endemic factionalism, the emphasis on personalities over issues, and the politicians' penchant for vote-buying and influence-peddling. Parties were formed, as before, by well-known or wealthy individuals to promote their own personal, familial, parochial, or regional interests.

A major point concerning political parties in the 2007 Constitution is Section 237, which requires a political party to be dissolved if any of its executive members are found guilty of election fraud. In such cases, if the Constitutional Court orders the party to dissolve, the executive members right to vote in an election will be suspended for a period of five years from the date of the order.

By the time of the 23 December 2007 election there were about 65 registered parties in Thailand, although many of these are inactive and will not field candidates in this election. Eighteen parties registered on 07 November 2007, the first day to register party list candidates. The candidates were competing for 400 constituency seats, and 80 party list seats, (eight regions each electing 10 MPs).

2009 Governing Coalition
Democrat Party 170
Phumjai Thai 32
Chart Thai Pattana25
Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pattana9
Social Action Party5
2009 Opposition
Puea Thai 182
Rassadorn Party3
Total 465
[vacant] 35
Following the dissolution of the pro-Thaksin People's Power Party (PPP), PPP legislators had a grace period (until February 2009) during which they could shift to new parties. As of 19 March 2009, according to a staff member of the House Secretariat, some of the 480 House seats remain unfilled, and a small number of the MPs had been suspended because of ongoing election-related disputes under adjudication by the courts. The five junior partners in the ruling Democrat Party government coalition were Phumjai Thai (PJT), Chart Thai Pattana (CTP), Puea Phaendin, Ruam Jai Thai Chat Pattana, and the Social Action Party.

In March 2009 the Election Commission (EC) dissolved 26 political parties which either have members of less than 5,000 or fail to open at least one branch in each region. The dissolution of the 26 parties was published in the Royal Gazette by the political party registrar. They include Labour Party, Power Ground Party, Rakmuangthai Party, Num Vidhi Party, Poung Prachadhum Party, Rakthai Party, Utopia Party, Pachachon Kaowna Party, Sahatham Party, Siam Kawna Party, Thai Nation Party, Sinlapin Party, Sri Siam Party, Pattana Prachathippatai Party, Satipap Chowthai Party, Siam Santi Party, Independent Party, Social Thai Party, Yudi Misuk Party, National Women Party, Thaiphuphan Party, Thai Rum Ruay Party, Thai law Jurisprudence Party, Liberal Thai People Party, Voices of the People Party and Fight For Thai Party.

In May 2011 the Election Commission (EC) invited representatives from 52 political parties in Thailand to a meeting to elaborate electoral regulations and collect their opinions to improve the operation of the EC prior to the upcoming general election. Regarding the limit of expenses for electoral campaigns, the commissioner said the issue was still inconclusive since large- and medium-sized political parties wanted the amount to be adjusted up to 2-3 million baht due to rising product prices while some parties wanted it unchanged as the sizes of constituencies were smaller.

A total of 1,410 candidates from 40 political parties submitted their applications during the five-day registration of MP candidates in the party-list system. After the party-list candidate registration, which took place from 19 to 23 May 2011, the number of political parties taking part in the registration process was concluded at 40, while the tally of candidates settled at 1,410. Seven parties met the quota of 125 candidates allowed for the party-list system; they comprised Pheu Thai, Chart Pattana Puea Pandin, Social Action, Democrat, Bhumjaithai, Chart Thai Pattana and New Aspiration. The entire process reportedly went smoothly with no violations of electoral laws. The registration of candidates in the constituency system took place from until 28 May 2011.

July 2011 Election Results
Pheu Thai Party265
Democrat Party159
Bhumjaithai Party34
Chaithaipattana Party19
Palung Chon Party7
Chart Pattana Puea Pandin Party7
Rak Prathet Thai (Rak Thailand) Party2
Matubhum Party2
Rak Santi Party1
Mahachon Party1
New Democracy Party1
On 23 June 2011, in the last round of political campaign, representatives from 6 political parties participated in the debate to present their policies on economy, society, education, security and political issues. The 6 Parties consist of Mr. Korapot Asawinwijit, Chatpatta Puepandins Head of Economics, Mr. Yongyuth Wichaidit, Pheu Thai leader, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, Democrat Leader, Mr. Suphachai Jaisamut, Bhumijai Thai Spokesperson, Mr. Piya Jampasut, Chathai Pattana core leader and General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, Mathubhumi Leader. In terms of education and security, every party showed similar visions where they would like to improve education standards and create good relations with neighboring countries, in the policy of each party respectively.

In July 2011, the Thaksin-affiliated Puea Thai Party (PTP) -- led by Thaksins youngest sister, Yingluck Shinawatra -- claimed a decisive electoral victory, obtaining 265 out of 500 parliamentary seats in general elections, while the Democrat Party (DP), the current ruling party, came in second at 159 seats. General elections in Thailand were held successfully on 3 July 2011. Voter turnout was at a record high of around 75 per cent. Yingluck was endorsed as the Prime Minister on August 10, 2011.

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