Thai Constitutional Court Accepts Case Seeking Dissolution of Move Forward Party

Thailand’s Constitutional Court has accepted a petition to disband the nation’s largest opposition party that was previously found guilty of breaching the charter over efforts to amend the royal defamation law.

The court accepted the petition by the Election Commission to dissolve Move Forward Party on Wednesday, based on the same court’s in January that the group’s campaign to loosen the , also known as Article 112 of the Thai penal code, amounted to an attempt to overthrow the country’s constitutional monarchy.

Move Forward has 15 days to submit its defense, the court said in a statement.

The case is the latest in a series of blows against the upstart party, which shook Thai politics by winning the most parliamentary seats on support from largely young and urban voters who had grown frustrated with nearly a decade of military-backed administrations. Its candidate was by pro-establishment conservative lawmakers from becoming the prime minister last year, before being cleared of allegations that he had violated election rules.

If the opposition party is dissolved, Pita and other executive members will likely be banned from politics for 10 years. As part of the January ruling, the charter court ordered Move Forward to stop all attempts to revise the royal insult law, which protects the monarchy from defamation and carries up to 15 years in prison for each offense.

Move Forward’s current predicament has been likened to that of its predecessor, Future Forward Party, which was and whose key leaders were barred from political office for a decade. A fresh dissolution order could also potentially unleash more political unrest that may roil Thai financial markets anew.

But the reformist party, which won 151 seats in the 500-member parliament and almost 40% of the popular votes in May 2023, has remained unfazed, with Pita saying the group had “long prepared” itself for a potential dissolution. 

When a political party is dissolved, its sitting lawmakers may join a new party within 30 days to keep their seats in the lower house.