MP numbers being shuffled around in lead up to Thai election

Some of Thailand’s key political parties are set to see a significant reduction in MPs after new regulations were issued reducing the number of constituency candidates.

For instance, Pheu Thai Party’s strongholds – the North and the Northeast – will lose 13 seats in Parliament, while the Democrat Party could lose six MPs, as the number of seats in the South and Bangkok has been reduced by three each.

Political analyst Stithorn Thananithichot said no parties were gaining an upper hand at this stage, adding that the impact of gerrymandering would only surface once the exact electoral boundaries are drawn.

“The political parties will have no choice but to make adjustments in accordance with the new boundaries.”

The number of MPs from each province was published in the Royal Gazette yesterday. Since the number of constituency candidates have been reduced by 25 – from 375 in 2011 to 350 based on the new Constitution – the decrease in the number of seats in some areas is natural.

The number of seats in Parliament is based on the population. As per government records, the population stands at 66,188,503 people, and every 189,110 people get to have one MP.

In the South – perceived as a Democrat Party stronghold – the number of MPs has gone down from 53 to 50. However, Nipit Intrasombat, a former Democrat MP from Phatthalung, said the swing in the number of constituency MPs was not unexpected.

“It’s nothing to be concerned about. We are very well aware of the change,” he told The Nation.

“One MP from Surat Thani said he will withdraw this time, while the one in Trang has been given a red card. So this works out perfectly,” he said.

MP numbers being shuffled around in lead up to Thai election | News by Thaiger

Nikorn Chamnong, a key member from Chartthaipattana Party, whose stronghold in Suphan Buri province has also seen a reduction by one seat, said his party was prepared for the change and the candidate would be added to the party list instead.

Meanwhile, political analyst Stithorn, who hails from the King Prajadhipok’s Institute, explained that the reduction in MP numbers was dictated by law.

“It is what it is. The number of constituency MPs has to go down because the number of seats has dropped by 25. However, this number has been moved to the party-list allocation, which has risen to 150. We will still have 500 MPs, just like we did in the 2011 elections.”

However, he said, problems will arise with gerrymandering once the exact boundaries in each province are drawn.

“Unfair constituency boundaries or gerrymandering arises when a party’s stronghold is divided and it is put at a disadvantage,” he said. “That is when a party’s stronghold is separated into two constituencies, then that party may lose in that constituency.”

According to the Election Commission, the drawing of boundaries should be completed in 55 days.

SOURCE: The Nation

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