Thai Opposition Fails to Strip Senate of its Power to Choose Next PM

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Photo Courtesy: Thai Enquirer

Just short of eight votes, opposition parties in Thailand failed in their attempt to prevent the junta-appointed Senate of powers from electing the next prime minister before the national vote which would be held at the start of next year. 

A vital proposal was drafted to revise the 2017 military-backed constitution and 356 votes were cast in its support, falling short of the 364 needed from half the members of the joint session of the parliament on Wednesday. The aim of the proposal was to potentially eliminate a provision that authorizes the Senate to select the next prime minister alongside the lower house for the first five years after the post-coup elections in 2019.

Many expected this move to fail as its success would require more than half the votes from the 750-seat National Assembly and this would also include a third of Senate votes. Considering that most members of the 250-member Senate, were hand-picked by the military which seized power in May 2014, they voted against the proposal.

Previously there have been five attempts to remove the Senate’s voting power from the constitution, which failed to receive the necessary votes. The most recent proposal was brought up in the parliament after it received over 64,000 signatures from the civil society following a public campaign that started last year. This exercise enabled to highlight the prowess of the military establishment.

With Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha being temporarily suspended and Caretaker Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan being caught sleeping on the job just this week, the opposition had petitioned regarding the merit of the current Government in power.

The court is expected to meet today to assess the statements provided by Prayuth’s legal team and several others who contributed to drafting the constitution.