01 February 2024

‘Jack the giant slayer’

Democracy Monument

Two petitions have been filed with the Election Commission of Thailand today, calling for the dissolution of the Move Forward Party, following the Constitutional Court’s unanimous verdict yesterday that Move Forward’s proposal to amend the lèse-majesté law was tantamount to treason. (The court ruled that the party violated article 49 of the constitution, according to which it is forbidden “to overthrow the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.”)

Article 92 of the Organic Act on Political Parties (2017) states that the ECT, “when having believable evidence that any political party performed any of the following actions, shall file a petition to the Constitutional Court to dissolve such political party.” The first of those actions is: “To overthrow the democratic form of government with the King as head of state”, of which Move Forward was found guilty yesterday.

Political activist Ruangkrai Leekitwattana petitioned the ECT this morning, citing article 92 of the Organic Act. Ruangkrai is known as ‘Jack the giant slayer’, as his complaint against Samak Sundaravej resulted in the former prime minister being dismissed from office. (He had accused Samak of receiving private income from a TV cookery show.) Theerayut Suwankesorn, who filed the petition that led to yesterday’s court verdict, has also petitioned the ECT this morning, citing the same article as Ruangkrai.

The ECT is now obliged to refer the case to the Constitutional Court, which will rule on whether Move Forward should be dissolved. If the court’s previous judgements are any guide, dissolution seems inevitable, as other anti-establishment parties—Thai Rak Thai, People Power, Thai Raksa Chart, and Move Forward’s predecessor Future Forward—have all met the same fate.

Despite winning last year’s election, Move Forward’s prime ministerial nominee was blocked by the Senate. With the junta-appointed senators’ terms of office expiring in May, thus increasing Move Forward’s chances of gaining power at the next election, today’s petitions can be seen as a preemptive measure: an alternative mechanism to prevent the party from exercising its mandate.