Yesterday and today both the Senate and the House of Representatives have discussed several proposed amendments to the 2007 constitution. At the time of writing this posting I don't know yet any details on if and which of the amendments will get added to the constitution, most of the news articles are rather skeptical any of these amendments will make it. Out of the proposed amendments, the ones on the election system for the House of Representatives are the ones which fit within the scope of this blog. I had mentioned one major item already when it was first proposed by the constitutional reform panel - the return to the single seat constituencies introduced with the 1997 constitution.
The relevant articles of the constitution are 93 to 98, which right now call for 480 MPs - 400 from constituencies with up to three seats, and 80 party list MPs elected in eight regions with 10 MPs each. The proposal made by the government would change this to 500 MPs - 375 from a single seat constituencies and 125 from a single nationwide party list.
As since I posted on those changes last time I had finished reading the book "Myths and Realities: The Democratization of Thai Politics" I have now much more background on the rationale for introducing the single-seated constituencies it first place. The main idea was to strengthen the role of political parties, which traditionally are nothing but a loose grouping of individual politicians, who easily switch their party alliance whenever they see a political (or even monetary) gain from it. The multi seat constituencies are thought to support the factionalism, as each group of contenders running under the same party label in one constituency easily form the basis of a faction with one leader and two followers who strongly depend on their leader and thus support him after they are elected. However, in a single-seat constituency each candidate would be on his own, and thus would be more a party member than a faction member. Well, that was the theory, but during Thaksins terms there still were many factions within his Thai Rak Thai party, mostly held together by his money, the prospect of political power, but also because changing parties shortly before new elections was made more difficult.
But as these factions were existing since the end of the absolute monarchy, sometimes as factions with in parliament, sometimes as factions within cabinet, and the 1997 constitution didn't really change much on it, I have no hope the return to single-seat constituencies or the increase of number of party list MPs will have any significant effect now. Maybe the proposal made by Michael H. Nelson in 2007 of using the election system from Germany would change more - half of the MPs in Germany are direct candidates from constituencies to have the close relationship between electorate and candidate, yet the number of seat of each party in parliament only depends on the party list votes, with party list MPs filling up the seats available for each party not yet covered by direct candidates. But I doubt that the Thai parties are ready for such a change, as they would need a real program of policies prior to the elections - and banning whole parties and their leading politicians for illegal acts done by single executive members does help them to get strong enough for such a voting system.