Thailand’s Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to consider whether the People’s Power party that won national elections on December 23 should be dissolved for being a proxy for Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted former prime minister banned from politics for five years.
The court’s decision to hear the case filed by the PPP’s rival Democrat party came as election authorities announced a probe into allegations of malfeasance by 83 election winners, 65 of them members of the PPP.
The probe and court case will heighten concerns by PPP members and supporters that the army generals who drove Mr Thaksin from power in a September 2006 coup are trying to prevent his loyalists from forming a government, in spite of their poll victory.
“The coup-makers have been trying to obstruct the PPP from forming a government all along,” said Chaturon Chaiseng, one of 110 other politicians from Mr Thaksin’s now defunct Thai Rak Thai (Thais love Thais) party also banned from politics. “It’s clear now that the election commission is working very closely with them.”
If election winners are found guilty of serious fraud, they will be disqualified and their parties barred from contesting subsequent by-elections, potentially tilting the balance of power within parliament.
The PPP, which became a refuge for Mr Thaksin’s loyalists following the dissolution of the Thai Rak Thai, emerged from the December polls as the largest party in the new parliament, with 233 seats, seven short of a majority in the 480-seat house.
This week, the PPP, which has already had three of its winners disqualified, said three small parties were joining it in a governing alliance that would have a narrow majority.
Two medium-size parties – with a combined 61 seats – were also expected to join the PPP-led alliance this week, but a decision was postponed after the January 2 death of Princess Galyani Vadhana, the elder sister of Thailand’s revered monarch.
However, the court case against the PPP and the election commission’s investigation into alleged wrongdoing could totally alter the post-election scenario.
“They can change the party that is the core of the coalition, which is very strange,” said Mr Chaturon, whose sister and brother were elected to parliament on the PPP ticket. “It’s not really democratic.”
In their court challenge, the Democrats accuse Samak Sundaravej, who openly professed his loyalty to Mr Thaksin, of being a “nominee” for the former leader. They accused the PPP of violating election laws by circulating CDs of Mr Thaksin urging his supporters to vote for the PPP in the polls.