Thailand’s Move Forward Party faces possible dissolution

Image courtesy of Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP

The Move Forward Party (MFP), one of Thailand’s major opposition parties, is currently battling a case against its dissolution in court. The case was triggered by the Election Commission’s (EC) proposal, based on Section 92 of the Political Parties Act, after the MFP was found to be advocating for amendments to Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law.

The court granted the MFP an extension to May 3 to file its defence following the EC’s petition accepted on April 3. However, the MFP sought another extension on April 24, requesting an additional 15 days.

The EC has the authority to propose a party’s dissolution to the court if substantial evidence of activities deemed harmful to the democratic regime with the King as the head of state.

This action stems from a Constitutional Court ruling on January 31, where the MFP was deemed to be undermining the constitutional monarchy by advocating changes to the lese majeste law.

Following the ruling, the MFP was ordered to halt all efforts to amend Section 112 and was prohibited from making changes through non-legislative channels.

Campaigning for this issue was considered an attempt to abolish the constitutional monarchy and a violation of the constitution. The court cited the past actions of Pita Limjaroenrat, the party’s ex-leader, and the MFP as a whole, including their attempts to secure bail for lese majeste suspects.

The court stated that Pita and the MFP tried to alter or annul Section 112 when its 44 Members of Parliament (MPs) submitted a bill to amend it on March 25, 2021.

Legislative processes

Deputy Party Leader, Police Major General Supisarn Bhakdinarinath, stated that the party had not engaged in any attempts to overthrow the constitutional monarchy, stating that the party was merely fulfilling its duty as MPs and following legislative processes when submitting the bill to amend Section 112.

He added that the MFP had complied with the court’s order to cease all attempts to amend the section. However, he also acknowledged that if the court uses the same logic as in the January 31 ruling, the party might be dissolved.

“The party is prepared. Let’s wait and see people’s reaction. The more the party is suppressed, the more it will grow.”

He further speculated that the number of party MPs might increase from the current 150 to 250 in the next election.

According to law, if a party is disbanded, its MPs must join new parties within 60 days or lose their MP status.

Pattana Reonchaidee, a law lecturer at Ramkhamhaeng University, added that the same judges who delivered the ruling on January 21 would rule on the dissolution case. He expressed his belief that the ruling will be delivered sooner rather than later and it may not favour the MFP.

The MFP won the most votes in the May 14 election, with a total of 14.4 million votes, securing 151 seats in the House.

Pattana further suggested that if the party is disbanded, some people may consider it as being treated unjustly and sympathise with it, potentially leading to more votes for the MFP in the next election, reported Bangkok Post.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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