Former and current election regulators and academics were divided yesterday over a proposal to switch to a new national electoral system. While most former regulators and academics favour changes to the system, a current member of the Election Commission believes the format in place now should be retained. Former election commissioner Gothom Arya said the current electoral system was being blamed for contributing to political conflict, and needed to be amended. The system has led to two major political parties dominating parliament, he said, and they were competing for power often at the expense of national interest. Mr Gothom was speaking at a seminar on electoral system reform organised yesterday by the Election Commission. He proposed three alternative options: A parallel system; a multi-member proportional (MMP) system; and a single transferable vote (STV) system.
The first is an adjusted version of the current polling system, with the proportion of the constituency and party list MPs adjusted to be more or less equal in number. At present, of Thailand’s 500 elected representatives, 375 are directly elected while 125 come from a closed-list proportional system. Under an MMP system, the number of MPs in each party would be equal to the number of its winning candidates in the constituency election, plus an additional number of MPs calculated from the proportion of total votes it gained. The STV system is more complicated in terms of calculating the number of MPs for each party, but could guarantee that every vote counts towards determining the number, according to Mr Gothom.
Prinya Tevanaruemitrkul, deputy rector of Thammasat University, supported a switch to the MMP system, saying it would help resolve the problem of a vast majority of MPs being with only two major parties. The MMP system is now being used by nine countries, including Germany.Election Commissioner Prapun Naigowit, however, defended the current election system. “This system is good enough to some degree as it is a system in which the majority of votes get the right to rule. We shouldn’t switch back and forth,” he said. “The constitution should be amended only at the right time, when all sides agree to do so.”
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