Early elections called in Thailand

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, facing mass protests, has called early elections. It may not be coincidental that this move comes right after the opposition seemed to have given up on democracy: The Democrat Party, parliament’s second largest, announced Sunday it would resign en masse, and demonstrators have called for an unelected “People’s Council” to replace the elected institutions.

In the last elections, 3 July 2011, Shinawatra’s For Thais Party won 48.4% of the votes and 265 of the 500 seats. The Democrats won 35.2% and 159 seats. The electoral system is MMM. I don’t know much about Thai politics, but I assume Shinawatra isn’t calling an election she expects to lose. The protest movement seems overly confined to its base in Bangkok, whereas the ruling party has deep roots in much of the rest of the country.

Thailand’s politics remains a mess.

9 thoughts on “Early elections called in Thailand

  1. The advantage ratio (%seats/%votes) for the winning party in 2011 was surprisingly modest for MMM: 1.095.

    Compare that with previous elections (leaving out 2006, when the opposition boycotted):
    2001, 1.22
    2005, 1.37
    2007, 1.205

    What was it about the distribution of votes in 2011 that made the outcome somewhat less majoritarian than previous ones?

    The electoral system has been different in each of thee elections, although broadly in the MMM family. (See previous plantings on the 2007 election: pre-election and on the outcome.) The 2011 system is more similar to that of 2001 and 2005 than to that of 2007.

  2. The Democrat Party sic has lost every general election since 2001 to Thaksin or his proxies. King Bhumibol is both very old and very ill. Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn is thought be very close to Thaksin. The army, palace, and corporate factions that surround the throne and are represented in the Democrat Party are not going to give up with out a fight. It is worth noting that of the 18 coups in Thailand’s history, 17 have occurred under the present king and that all coup-makers have been devoted to the monarchy. 3 of those coups have been directed against governments headed by Thaksin or his proxies.

  3. For a constitution imposed by a military fearing democracy by elected politicians, the Thai constitution of 2007 is suprisingly easy to amend : a majority of all members in both houses of parliament (I was expecting supermajorities of 2/3rds…)
    (s. 291 in http://www.asianlii.org/th/legis/const/2007/1.html )

    …but then there is always this proviso: “A motion for amendment which has the effect of changing the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State or changing the form of State shall be prohibited;”

    The Constitutional Court recently barred an amendment that would have made the Senate 100% directly elected.

  4. Why are so many countries using MMM system and not MMP? Would Thailand be better off? Is MMM system is the same system that Japan uses? It seems like to me that Thailand has some similarities with Turkey albeit Turkey is a Republic and Thailand a monarchy, and Thailand has had more coups, consitutions, protests than Turkey has. The military always seems to intervene when the politicians don’t play nice.

      • The ACE Project website calls MMM parallel. Is that a good name for MMM? One would think that MMP is also a parallel system as well.

      • “Parallel” in this context means not linked. So MMP is definitely not parallel. Shugart and Wattenberg refer to parallel vs. compensatory relationship of the tiers, but prefer the names, MMM and MMP, when describing the electoral systems. But others use “unlinked” vs. “linked”, or “a parallel system” vs. MMP.

        I don’t like using “MMM” and “parallel” system, because there are systems of PR in both tiers, but without compensation, hence they are two-tier parallel list-PR (e.g. the former systems of Ecuador and El Salvador and the current one of Guatemala).

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