Political Party Finance in Thailand Today
Evolution, Reform, and Control
This study examines the evolution of political party finance in Thailand, which has been crucial for party development. The nature of party finance cannot be examined separately from the country's democratization given that the military early on dominated political parties. At the same time, such financing traditionally depended upon either regional factions (for larger parties) or party leaders (for micro-parties), while state funding for parties was nonexistent. The 1998 and 2007 Organic Acts on Political Parties contained finance reforms to strengthen parties, making them more transparent and accountable. Yet these reforms have only been partly successful. Today party leaders, faction leaders, and the military continue to influence party finance. This study addresses the issue of party finance in Thailand by scrutinizing its historical evolution from the dawn of Thai parties and party laws in the 1950s to the present. The authors conclude, first, that the limited nature of party finance laws in the pre-1998 period legitimized military-backed parties while facilitating intra-party factionalism. Second, they contend that despite reforms in party finance laws in Thailand major flaws remain to be corrected.