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Abhisit backs calls to end senators’ role in picking post-election PM

By Thai Newsroom Reporters

FORMER PREMIER ABHISIT Vejjajiva has joined ranks with pro-democracy groups in repeating calls for an end to the role of all unelected senators in voting for head of a post-election government.

Delivering a speech via a zoom conferencing system to Thammasat University’s Faculty of Law, the former premier advised today (May 17) that the 250 senators, handpicked by the military junta who had staged the 2014 coup, be entirely kept out of the legislative process for the picking of a prime minister following a general election for MPs as far as democratic rule is concerned.

For that reason, Abhisit who has earlier resigned as leader of Democrat Party and as legislator in protest of the successful naming of coup leader Prayut Chan-o-cha as head of the Palang Pracharath-led coalition government in 2019, suggested that the constitution’s Section 272 be amended to the extent that such a decisive, yet undemocratic role of the unelected senators be no longer permitted.   

Abhisit made his remarks on occasion of the 30th anniversary of the May 1992 mass uprising in which dozens of street protesters were killed and many others injured in the gunfire by army soldiers followed by the ouster of former army chief Suchinda Kraprayoon who had named himself prime minister.

Abhisit commented that the recurring seizure of power by the coup-staging military and their dictatorial or authoritarian rule had primarily caused setbacks to Thailand’s democratic rule over the last few decades.

According to the former premier, although Prayut may be viewed as head of the government which was set up after the election for MPs including those who belong to coalition partners, he had practically risen to power in an undemocratic fashion due to unelected senators having voted in his support.

Given endorsement of an estimated 70,500 signatures of people, a pro-democracy activist group, namely the Campaign For Constitutional Amendment, had earlier submitted a petition to parliament calling for amendment to the constitution’s Section 272 to the extent that all 250 senators be no longer legally empowered to join ranks with elected MPs in the voting for head of a post-election government as had been the case of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha following the 2019 general election.

The military-installed Palang Pracharath Party successfully named Prayut as head of a multiple-party coalition government with solid support from those senators all of whom were handpicked by a post-coup military junta headed by the army chief-turned-premier Prayut.

The Campaign For Constitutional Amendment pointed out that only the constituents-elected MPs should be constitutionally empowered to vote for a post-election prime minister and that such a decisive role should ultimately be none of the appointed senators’ business as far as democratic rule is concerned.

Nevertheless, similar constitutional amendment efforts, particularly those designed to rid the senators of the constitutional power to vote for a prime minister, had been earlier made at parliament but eventually aborted by coalition lawmakers and senators who constituted majority votes.


Top and Home Page: Former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva. Both photos: Matichon

Also read: Massive bid to keep senators out of PM-picking process forwarded to parliament

Revived call for end to senators’ power to pick PM kicks off

Protesters perform ceremony to put senators in the pot

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