EC Admits 27 Parties to Parliament, Setting New Record

Newly elected MPs report to the parliament on May 8, 2019.

BANGKOK — The Election Commission on Wednesday awarded 26 political parties party-list seats in the lower house – a record high in Thai history.

According to information released by the commission, winners range from the Future Forward Party, who came in first place at 50 seats, to small parties like Thai Civilized and New Palangdharma, who were allocated one seat each.

Together with Pheu Thai – who won the largest number of constituency seats but failed to win any in the party-list system – a total of 27 political parties will be present in the next legislature.

Commissioner Sawaeng Boonmee was greeted by shouts from reporters, who had been camping at the agency for hours, when he arrived for a news conference to announce the returns at about 6pm today.

“We’ve been ready since this morning!” one reporter shouted.

“What took you so long?” another jeered.

Sawaeng replied, “We’ve been in meeting for two days straight.”

Sawaeng has yet to release full data on the number of votes won by each party, but confirmed that one seat is allocated to every 30,000 votes – down from the bare minimum of 71,000 votes previously announced by the commission. 

Prior to the election, the Election Commission specified that the threshold for a party-list set would be determined by the number of ballots cast divided by the number of seats in parliament. Since 35,532,647 voters participated in the election on March 24, the threshold for a party-list seat under the original proposition would have been some 71,000 votes.

The commissioner said the previous quota turned out to be untenable because it would have resulted in fewer than 150 party-list seats. As such, a lower threshold was adopted.

“We have done everything in accordance with the law,” Sawaeng said, adding that the Constitutional Court granted his office the authority to distribute seats under own its calculation. “If anyone believes we did not act within the law, they can proceed with legal actions.”

Some political parties have already threatened to do exactly that, arguing that the downsized quota represents a change in the conditions set by the very same commission when voters went to the polls in March.

The results also mean parliament will be filled with representatives from over 20 parties, whereas previous legislatures in Thailand’s eight decades of parliamentary democracy typically featured up to 10 parties at most.

For a comparison, 11 political parties made it to parliament in 2011, nine in 2007, seven in 2001 and nine in 1996.