The party in Thailand that got the most votes in last year’s election might have to shut down because the court said its main idea is against the law.
Move Forward is not in the government, but it promised to campaign to change the laws about speaking badly about the royal family. The court in Thailand found that this promise goes against the constitution.
Anti-government laws are being used more and more to stop people from criticizing the government, activists say.
The leader of Move Forward might not be allowed to be in politics anymore.
Pita Limjaroenrat is a young politician who went to Harvard. People thought he was a big problem for Thailand’s king and the powerful military group. In 2023, he got a lot of people to vote for him by saying he would control their power.
His efforts to become prime minister were stopped by the Senate, even though he was not chosen by the people.
Last week, he won another court case trying to stop him from being in parliament. However, he and his party did not win the important second case on Wednesday for their main policy platform.
The Constitutional Court said that Move Forward’s promise to change the law about insulting the king was like trying to overthrow the whole government in Thailand.
The decision doesn’t come with a punishment right away, but many people think it will be used to shut down Move Forward and stop its leaders from being involved in politics for a few years.
By making this decision, the court has basically made it impossible for the elected parliament to change the lese majeste law.
Many people think the law in Thailand restricts freedom of speech and is too strict.
Earlier this month, a 30-year-old man in Bangkok was sent to prison for 50 years for saying bad things about the Thai king.
Since November 2020, more than 260 people have been accused of breaking the law. This date marks the start of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s rule.
The Thai courts said that people are not allowed to talk about the powerful royal family.
Four years ago, Move Forward’s old party, called Future Forward, was also shut down after doing surprisingly well in an election.
The Constitutional Court’s action caused many student protests that lasted for months. The protesters demanded big changes to the monarchy, which had never been asked for before.
Today, many protest leaders are being charged with breaking the lese majeste law and could go to prison for a long time.
The court has also decided if it is legal to ask for a change to lese majeste.
In November 2021, the court decided that three top activists who asked for changes in the monarchy during the protests of 2020 were secretly planning to overthrow the monarchy.
It told them to stop and all three have been charged with many crimes since then.
This new decision says that it’s not okay to propose any changes to the lese majeste law.
Move Forward said it was the job of the elected parliament to check a law in the regular penal code. Thailand’s lese majeste law has been changed two times.
Furthermore, during its election campaign, the party avoided supporting calls to completely get rid of the law, and instead only suggested making some changes to it. It received the most votes compared to other parties, so it had a strong public support for its proposed changes.
The judges decided that Move Forward and its leaders did things that showed they wanted to get rid of Thailand’s democratic government, with the King as the Head of State.
It told them to not do anything that showed they wanted to get rid of the law that protects the king, and they can only change the law in the right way, through the government.
This means that the law could be changed by the government, but people can’t talk about it on social media or in public.
With all the times in Thailand that political parties have been shut down and leaders banned from politics for not very good reasons, there will be a lot of pressure to do the same to Move Forward.
Some people from Thailand will think that this was the main reason for submitting the petition to the court.