MP from dissolved party may stay, says Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court ruled on 20 October that Paiboon Nititawan, who was elected as an MP from the now-dissolved People Reform Party and who moved to the Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP), may retain his party-list MP status.

Paiboon Nititawan

60 MPs had filed a petition asking House Speaker Chuan Leekpai to request the Constitutional Court to rule whether Paiboon is allowed to maintain his MP status, since he dissolved the People Reform Party, of which he was the founder and only MP, in August 2019 and joined PPRP in September 2019. He was therefore not among the PPRP’s party-list MP candidates as presented to the Election Commission before the 2019 general election.

As leader of the People Reform Party, he was also bound by the organic law on political parties to undertake the liquidation process to legally dissolve his party.

The Constitutional Court ruled, by a majority, that Paiboon is allowed to retain his MP status, as his party was legally dissolved, therefore allowing him to move to a new party within 60 days. As for his not being a PPRP party-list MP candidate, the Court ruled that the criteria on becoming a party-list MP as stated in the Constitution is used during and before an election, and so is a different issue from Paiboon’s case, which happened after he was been elected as MP.

Paiboon was elected in 2019 on the strength of a total of 45,508 votes for his People Reform Party in all constituencies across the country where they fielded candidates, none of whom got anywhere close to winning their constituency. 

The Election Commission calculated that each party-list seat should represent more than 70,000 votes, but in the case of micro-parties, such as the People Reform Party, allowed a rounding up procedure, making the minimum number of votes needed for a single seat only 35,000.  This interpretation of the law was challenged but the Constitutional Court merely ruled that the law did not contravene the constitution. 

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