July 3, 2023
BANGKOK – Thailand’s oldest political party should drop its rule favouring MPs over ordinary party member when it elects its new leader in a week because it no longer has many MPs, a former deputy spokesman of the Democrat Party said on Sunday.
Chao Meekhuan was referring to Article 87 of the party’s charter, which sets the weighting of votes by MPs and ordinary members at a 70:30 ratio for electing a party leader.
The Democrats will elect a new leader next Sunday, after Jurin Laksanawisit stepped down to take responsibility for the party’s resounding defeat in the May 14 election.
In a Facebook post, Chao explained that 20 of 25 Democrat MPs elected in the May 14 vote are under the control of the party’s caretaker secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on.
In the past, the party had many candidates interested in running to be party leader, but this time only Alongkorn Ponlaboot, who is known to have good ties with Chalerm-chai, has announced his candidacy for the post, Chao said.
In the past it was suitable to give MPs more weight in the vote for party leader because there were often more than 100, he added.
“But the Democrat Party has transformed from a large to a mid-sized party and it’s about to become a small party soon. This is an extraordinary situation,” Chao said in his Facebook post.
“At this turning point [for the party], we should not allow only 25 MPs to control the party’s fate by themselves,” he added.
Democrats know that the party’s fate is now controlled by Chalermchai and he can dictate who the next leader can be, so no one dares to run for party leader, Chao said.
Ordinary party members should have equal voting rights as MPs to elect a new leader and executive board, Chao said, using the slogan: “one vote for all”.
Last Tuesday, Chalermchai denied that he has picked a new leader for the party.
Some pundits have said that former leader Abhisit Vejjajiva will return to lead the party.
On June 25, Abhisit said it the leader selected was not as important as ensuring unity and solidarity in the party, adding that these are necessary for the party to regain its past glory.