[Update-1] Small parties vow to fight on despite electoral rules change

Despite a constitutional amendment that will empower big parties in the next election, smaller parties told Thai Enquirer on Monday that they were ready to compete on the national stage.

Thailands parliament voted earlier this year to return the voting system from a one ballot to a two ballot system which places more emphasis on constituency candidates than party-list candidates. The amendment was ratified and signed by the palace on Sunday night.

This means that smaller parties, which previously were empowered under the one-ballot voting system, will find it much harder to gain seats.

Chaturon

Chaturon Chaisang, former deputy prime minister and chief policy strategist of the now-dissolved Thai Raksa Chart Party, said despite the disadvantages, he will launch a new party “soon.”

“Since there is now a clarity in terms of the electoral system, we should be able to find a conclusion soon,” he said.

He said the two-ballot system with 400 constituency MPs and 100 party-list MPs will better reflect the popularity of the parties than the one ballot system.

However, it also provides big and more widely known parties with advantages over smaller parties.

“The key is how many constituency MPs you would get and for smaller parties to get constituency MPs [it will be harder] as popularity requires time to build up,” he said.

He said social media will play an even bigger role in the next election.

Chaturon also said the changes will make voters more inclined to vote for bigger parties because people want to vote for parties that have more chances to be in the government.

Thai Sang Thai Party

Suwadee Puntpanich, the deputy spokeswoman of the Thai Sang Thai Party (TST), said the new electoral rules will not affect the party’s strategy for the next general election.

“Khunying Sudarat [Keyuraphan] already said that no matter which system, we will field candidates in all 400 districts,” she said. 

Heavy campaigning has been the party’s tactic since the start and it will continue in all 77 provinces in order to hear the people’s grievances that would help them formulate policies, she said.

Pongsakorn Annopporn, election director of the party, said in September that TST will mostly field young candidates and they are confident with their chance in every district, especially in Bangkok.

Suwadee did not disclose the party’s seat targets.

“I will leave that for Khunying Sudarat to announce on a later date,” she said.

Ruam Thai United

Ruam Thai United’s co-founder, Voranai Vanijaka, said the new electoral rules were not put in place to provide an advantage for larger parties but they were put in place only to support General Prayut Chan-ocha and the ruling party.

“It might be unfair for other parties but this is now the rule in town,” he said.

“For Ruam Thai United, we are willing to fight no matter if it was a one ballot system or a two ballot system,” he said.

He said the party will first concentrate on major cities because it is more practical.

“We are a new party in a political landscape full of very old and very big parties so we have to target major cities first and then branch out into the rural areas,” he said.

However, even though the party’s election campaign will concentrate on major cities, the party’s policies will focus on solutions for the entire country, not only solutions for problems within major cities.

“Our policies are not finalized yet but we understand that in order to truly change Thailand, there have to be policies targeting the structure of the country and the structure of the country includes everyone from major cities down to villages,” he said.

Editor note: Previous edition that said Chaturon will launch a party in 2021 was misquoted by the interviewer. Chaturon confirmed that he meant there will be a conclusion on that matter before the end of this year.

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