Huge Setback for MFP as Court Agrees To Hear Dissolution Case

On Wednesday, Thailand’s Constitutional Court agreed to review a petition seeking to dissolve the opposition Move Forward Party, marking huge setback for the country’s burgeoning anti-establishment movement advocating for sweeping institutional reforms.

The court agreed to review a complaint lodged by the election commission, which seeks to dissolve MFP due to its contentious initiative to modify a law that defends the monarchy against criticism, a law under which more than 260 individuals have been charged in recent years.

This legal challenge is a continuation of a January decision by the same court, which determined that MFP’s proposal to change the law was against the constitution and effectively an effort to undermine the government structure, placing the king as the head of state.

Move Forward has refuted any intentions of such nature. On Wednesday, spokesperson Parit Wacharasindhu announced the party’s plan to formulate its defense, indicating readiness for various outcomes.

Despite achieving a remarkable victory in the previous year’s elections, MFP was prevented from establishing a government due to opposition from legislators linked to the military and royalist factions.

The party’s forward-thinking agenda, particularly its proposition to revise the law that safeguards the monarchy, a law that imposes up to 15 years of imprisonment for each act deemed insulting to the royal family, has found favor among young and city-based voters.

In Thailand, the monarchy is constitutionally revered and considered sacrosanct by many royal supporters. The law in question, one of the most stringent globally, typically receives no commentary from the palace itself.

Should the court decide adversely against Move Forward, the party could be disbanded and its leaders could face extensive political prohibitions, mirroring the fate of its predecessor, Future Forward, which was dissolved in 2020 over a campaign funding issue.

Additionally, a complaint related to the law on royal insults has been submitted to a Thai anti-corruption agency, demanding lifetime bans for 44 past and present members of Move Forward.

Currently holding the largest share of seats in the lower house, approximately 30%, Move Forward continues to be Thailand’s favorite party according to recent surveys.

Its agenda for reform, which includes abolishing military conscription and breaking up business monopolies, challenges the traditional Thai power structures and has led to an unprecedented coalition between the Pheu Thai Party and military-affiliated groups.

MFP maintains that its policy proposals mirror public sentiment, arguing that its efforts to amend the royal insults law were aimed at bolstering the constitutional monarchy and preventing the misuse of the law to suppress dissent.

Pita Limjaroenrat, the party’s prime ministerial candidate, vowed to “fight tooth and nail” to defend the party’s existence against attempts to dismantle it, interpreting these actions as indicative of the conservative establishment’s deep-seated fears regarding its reform plans.