Thailand’s Constitutional Court has dissolved the Future Forward Party (FFP) and banned its executives from politics for 10 years. The political ban come for accepting 191.3 million baht from an illegitimate source.
The court ruled that the money party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit lent to the party was considered “other benefits” under Section 66 of the Political Parties Act. Which limits donations to 10 million baht per donor per year.
The court said the Election Commission, which brought the legal complaint, could now proceed to take criminal action against Mr Thanathorn and 15 other party executives. Including secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and spokesperson Pannika Wanich.
If convicted, Mr Thanathorn could be jailed for up to five years and the other executives for up to three years.
Assets of Future Forward Party also seized
The money in excess of 10 million baht, or 181.3 million baht, will also be seized. The money will be put in the Political Party Development fund.
The political ban means Mr Thanathorn and the party executives cannot join a party or set up a new one for 10 years. They also cannot run as MPs since not losing the right to vote is one of the prerequisites.
Mr Thanathorn said on Friday evening that Future Forward would be reborn as a “movement.” He also vowed to continue pursuing a reform agenda outside Parliament.
The court decision means 65 Future Forward MPs must find a new party within 60 days. Ten list seats held by now-banned party executives will also have to be reallocated. It is not clear whether the EC will allow candidates on the FFP party list to replace those 10. If it doesn’t, the Opposition would have 229 votes. Far short of a majority ahead of next week’s no-confidence debate.
Both coalition and opposition parties are expected to woo the Future Forward refugees. However the party said earlier that a new party would be ready to accommodate those who wanted to pursue the same political path. Details are not known.
Constitutional Court has disbanded over 100 political parties
Since the enactment of Thailand’s first political parties law in 1998, the Constitutional Court has disbanded 110 parties. Including the Future Forward Party on Friday. In the first nine years, the dissolved parties were found to have violated the law based on technical issues. The first major case that had political repercussions was the disbandment of Thai Rak Thai party. The party was led by Thaksin Shinawatra in 2007.
The Future Forward Party was 16 months and 18 days old on the day it was dissolved. The FFP won 6.3 million votes in the March 24 election last year. It was also the third-largest party and on course for 88 MPs.
The FFP ended up with 81 MPs after the EC changed the party list calculation formula. Which gave more seats to micro-parties, all of which joined the governing coalition. Furthermore by the time it was dissolved, FFP had 77 MPs, 61,864 members and 13.8 million baht in membership fees. This is according to data posted on FFP Facebook page.
Source: Bangkok Post, Reuters