By Thai Newsroom Reporters
THE CONTENTIOUS AMENDMENT to an electoral system under one of the constitution’s organic laws hit an impasse due to lack of a quorum at parliament today (August 10), thus fueling the possibility of it being entirely aborted very shortly.
Though a total of 403 lawmakers had attended to make a quorum during today’s joint House/Senate meeting on the highly-arguable electoral systems for use with the future election for MPs, some 20 legislators either slipped out of the parliament chamber shortly after they had responded to a time-consuming roll call or simply abstained from casting a vote on one of the clauses of the complicated legislation, thus finally forcing the lack of the quorum.
Given the legislative rules under which such an organic law needs to pass a final approval from the lawmakers within a 180-day time, scheduled to end on August 15, the whole legislation might probably be completely aborted, thus paving way for the use of the original draft earlier prepared by the Election Commission.
Moments before Vice Parliament President Pornpet Wichitcholchai reluctantly called it a day, a rare phenomenon had occurred during today’s joint House/Senate session as MPs of largest coalition partner Palang Pracharath Party and those of the largest opposition Pheu Thai Party were deliberately absent only to force a lack of the quorum, albeit in a non-immediate fashion.
The Palang Pracharath-led coalition MPs and unelected senators had been earlier taken to task for having made a last-minute twist over the questionable, complicated electoral system by giving up on the mixed-member-majority system, also known as the divided-by- 100 formula, and instead endorsing the mixed-member-proportional system, also known as the divided-by-500 formula, allegedly at the order of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
The divided-by-500 formula could practically be helpful to the pro-Prayut splinter parties as had been the case in the 2019 election in which they were given an MP seat each.
Prayut has been allegedly concerned over the possibility that Palang Pracharath Party as well as others which may continue to endorse him as head of a post-election government might be defeated by Pheu Thai Party since former premier/de facto Pheu Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra earlier forecast a “landslide” victory of the largest opposition party in the next race to parliament.
Nevertheless, the legislators of Palang Pracharath Party headed by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan have once again made an aboutface in support of the mixed-member-majority system, thus prompting them to deliberately get absent from the joint House/Senate meeting in apparently successful bid to abort the whole legislation and return to the original draft of the polling agency, which has recommended the divided-by-100 formula alongside the use of two ballots, one for constituency-based mode and the other for party-listed mode, in place of one ballot which was used in a previous election.
The momentary quorum with 403 lawmakers responding to the roll call was finally lacking after one of the arguable clauses had been given the invalidated voting with the number of the attendees finally becoming inadequate.
The legislative rules call for the attendance of more than half the total number of lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and Senate combined, currently accounting for 364 to make a quorum.
A joint House/Senate meeting underway at parliament today, August 10, 2022. Photos: Matichon