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Last-ditch bid to amend election law scuttled over lack of quorum

By Thai Newsroom Reporters

THE LAST-DITCH EFFORT by lawmakers to amend the constitution’s organic law on the election for MPs finally came to an end due to lack of a quorum today (August 15), thus forcing the use of the original version proposed by the government.

The MPs and senators attending today’s joint House/Senate meeting eventually could not make a quorum, thus forcing Parliament President Chuan Leekpai to call it a day with the draft originally proposed by the government being automatically provided for use in the next general election.

Only 353 MPs and senators reported themselves in the parliament chamber, obviously failing to make a quorum which under the parliamentary rules needs more than half the total of lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and Senate combined, currently accounting for 364.

Today was the last day for the legislation which was given a 180-day time to have otherwise sailed through its third or final reading at parliament.

Absent from the joint House/Senate meeting in a successful bid to force the use of the government-proposed draft earlier prepared by the Election Commission were MPs of largest coalition partner Palang Pracharath Party and MPs of largest opposition Pheu Thai Party besides a number of unelected senators.

Both parties, albeit seated on the opposite side of the chamber’s aisle, have apparently adopted a common stand for the use of the double ballots and mixed-member-majority system, also known as  the divided-by-100 formula, for the making of 100 party-listed MPs apart from 400 constituency-based MPs.

Other versions of amendment to the organic law which would have otherwise enforced  the mixed-member-proportional system, also known as the divided-by-500 formula, were completely dropped since the contentious legislation has eventually failed to pass final approval.

Aborted alongside the mixed-member-proportional system was a desperate attempt of splinter parties, most of which only have one MP each, to reintroduce the single-ballot and divided-by-500 formula once used in the 2019 general election.

The splinter parties’ MPs have desperately pushed for the divided-by-500 formula which has earlier turned them into party-listed MPs with barely 30,000 votes each in the previous election. 

However, those pro-government splinter parties are no longer expected to find their way to parliament under the divided-by-100 formula in which as many as 300,000 votes would be needed to make a party-listed MP.

They have largely enjoyed the privileges of being satisfied and allegedly fed with “bananas”, figuratively referring to kickbacks in cash, since they could practically swing their votes either for or against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Palang Pracharath-led coalition government which has commanded a meagre majority of MPs.

Prayut who earlier said he would not have any problem about the electoral system for use in the next election has more or less expected to be endorsed by Palang Pracharath Party as head of a post-election government. 

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan who concurrently heads the largest coalition party and has been accused of having secretly fed the splinter MPs with “bananas” has apparently lended support for the government-backed version.


Top: Thai Parliament meeting chamber. Photo: INN News

Insert: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Photo: NNT

Front Page: Parliament President Chuan Leekpai. Photo: Matichon

Also read: Abortion of organic law on election looms

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MPs reminded of being representatives of people, not powers that be

House/Senate meeting adjourned due to lack of quorum among divided lawmakers

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