BANGKOK – The Election Commission of Thailand began on Friday to register new political parties for the first time since the 2014 coup d’état, a move that contributes to the return to democracy ahead of the February 2019 general elections.
It is expected that more than a dozen new political parties will come to register and present the required documents to validate their foundation and name and logo of the party, before the deadline concludes at the end of March.
The Election Commission will then have 30 days to approve or reject the candidacies, although the ruling military junta still maintains a ban on political activities, imposed after the coup.
One of the first groups to submit applications is the New Palang Dhamma Party (New Party for the Power of Religious Law), or NPDP, led by Ravee Machamadol. The party has also announced its support for the current Prime Minister and coup leader, Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha.
If ratified by the Election Commission, the parties must recruit 500 members and hold a General Assembly to select senior management.
For more than a decade, Thailand has been embroiled in a political crisis that has seen the nation caught in a cycle of democratically elected governments, anti-government protests and military rulers.
Thailand’s military overthrew the civilian government of Yingluck Shinawatra in a bloodless coup in May 2014, vowing to root out corruption and forge national reconciliation after prolonged street protests.
Thanks to the overwhelming support of the rural voters in the north and northeast regions, the political parties linked to the Shinawatras have defeated the opposition in every election since 2001.
Prayut’s junta has said it plans to hold general elections in February 2019, although the date has been previously put off on several occasions.