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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Constituency and party list system

In this parliamentary election, the candidates contested for 500 seats that consist of 375 seats for constituency list and 125 for party list. The seats for constituency list is similar with the number of the current constituencies, namely 375 constituencies. Or we can say that each constituency can send only 1 parliament member into the parliament.

Candidate debate forum in Satun province, South Thailand, June 2011

For constituency list candidate, one party can register only one candidate in each constituency. And for party list candidate, one party can register until the maximum 125 candidates.

The division of constituency list and party list determined the campaign of each candidate. The constituency list campaigned only in its constituency area or local. But the party list candidate could campaign nationwide.

However, the ability to campaign depends on their financial budget and how many members they have in those provinces, too. One candidate of party list I interviewed campaigned in some provinces, because he had voter basis in those regions. However, his party did not field any constituency list candidate, because they knew they could not defeated Democrat Parties candidates in that province. On the other hand, there was a rich and powerful party list candidate who could campaign in whole provinces in southern region of Thailand.

On the field, not every party was available nationwide. In this year, 40 parties contested in this parliament election. However, there were only 8 parties contested in Songkhla, 6 parties in Phatthalung, 8 parties in Satun and 7 parties in Trang. And, not all party field  candidates in all constituencies in those provinces. It is different from Indonesia, where every party should have provincial branch offices at least in 22 provinces.   

The boundary of one constituency based on the number of population in each province and divided into 125,000 people. Due to the new rule, there were some changes in constituency boundaries, especially in the provinces I observed. Songkhla changes from 3 constituencies in 2007 into 8 constituencies in 2011. Phatthalung from 1 constituency into 3 constituencies, Satun from 1 constituency into 2 constituencies and Trang from 2 into 4 constituencies.

The system of party list used in Thailand now is similar with the election system in Indonesia until 2004. At that time, the lesser the number of candidate, the bigger the possibility of his or her to be the member of parliament. Indonesian calls that as “calon jadi”. Yingluck and Abhisit were the candidates number 1 in their respective party, so they would be 99% to be member of parliament.

After the 500 members are elected, they will submit and elect  the next Thailand prime minister. This way is similar with Indonesia until 1999. The members of DPR and MPR sat down together and elected the president of Republic Indonesia. Just since 2004, the president and vice president are elected directly by Indonesian people.

Note: This article is published in The Global Review, too.

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