A clear verdict by the Constitutional Court spells the end of the road for the Future Forward Party which stormed to 81 seats in the March 24th election last year.
Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Friday struck down the Future Forward Party following a case brought by the Election Commission over a loan of ฿191 million advanced to the party before and after the Thai general election in March 2019.
Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Friday dissolved the radical Future Forward Party following a complaint and request from the Election Commission last December.
The court adjudicated that the loan of ฿191 million made by the party’s co-founder and leader violated the law as the interest rate and terms of the loans were not on a commercial basis.
Illicit source of funds of Section 72 of the electoral law
It, therefore, on this basis, considered the loan as effectively a donation from the party’s wealthy benefactor which violated Sections 61 and 66 of the Political Party Act and was, therefore, an illicit source under Section 72 and consequently dissolved the party.
On this basis, it held that the law stipulates that the political party be dissolved under Section 94.
The announcement means that the party’s executive including its co-founders Mr Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Thammasat University stalwart and MP, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul are now banned from Thai politics for 10 years.
Stunning court decision based on a law designed to prevent the wealthy dominating Thai politics
The stunning court verdict comes as there is divided opinion in Thailand regarding the party with many opposition figures criticising the Election Commission for bringing the case when other parties have also resorted to loan funding.
The Commission, however, has assiduously defended itself arguing that it was implementing the law to prevent Thai politics being dominated by the wealthy and powerful.
฿181 million seized from the party
The electoral law allows a maximum donation of ฿10 million to a political party
The court ruling also appears to sanction criminal action against the 10 member executive of the party for accepting illicit funds which the ฿181 million above the ฿10 million now represents.
The money has also been seized and will be applied to the Political Party Development fund.
Key Future Forward figures face jail
The strong ruling of the court leaves the party’s leadership including Mr Thanathorn, its high profile secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and spokeswoman Pannika Wanich facing a potential jail term of three years imprisonment if charged and convicted in court.
Endorsed the Election Commission’s actions
The stinging judgment, which took over an hour for the judges to read on Friday, accepted that the offence before it was an egregious breach of Thailand’s electoral laws.
It upheld and affirmed the powers of Thailand’s Election Commission, the statutory body that upholds the provisions of Thailand’s Political Party Act.
Purpose of the electoral laws emphasised
The court repeatedly referred to the purpose of the legislation being to prevent people with financial resources from wielding excessive political influence.
The court rejected the arguments put forward by Future Forward on his basis saying the intention of the law was clear and the actions of the party’s executive contravened those intentions.