Democrat advisory chief Chuan elected House speaker
The Democrat party’s chief advisor Chuan Leekpai has been elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, receiving 258 votes.
The other contender, Mr. Sompong Amornvivat of the Pheu Thai party, received just 235 votes.
Mr. Leekpai was nominated by Palang Pracharat party-list MP Natthaphon Teepsuwan, whereas Sompong was nominated by Mr. Sukarno Matha of the Prachachart party.
Mr. Chai Chidchob of the Bhumajthai party who, as the most senior of the 499 members of parliament acted as the House speaker, abstained. The 500th MP is yet to be elected in an election re-run in Chiang Mai’s Constituency 8.
After the election, Chuan Leekpai told the media that he had not expected that he would take the House speaker’s job, but had to accept it as a duty for an MP with more than 50 years’ political experience.
He declined to say whether his election as speaker was a condition for the Democrat party to join the Palang Pracharat-led coalition, but said Democrat party leader Jurin Laksanavisit is the right person to ask instead.
“No conditions for accepting the post (of House speaker). No bargaining, no quota for the Democrat party to join the government otherwise I would not have accepted the post,” said Chuan.
The Pheu Thai-led alliance of seven parties have 245 MPs in the House, but only 244 of them have the right to vote, because Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has been suspended from performing his duties as an MP by the Charter Court.
Nonetheless, only 242 of the Pheu Thai-led MPs actually voted, with two of them, from Pheu Thai and Future Forward parties reported sick and absent.
Earlier the pro-democracy group had said that all the 244 MPs would vote for Mr. Sompong. When the votes were counted after a secret vote, however, seven votes for Mr. Sompong were conspicuously missing.
Earlier in the morning, the House meeting was thrown into chaos when the Palang Pracharat party asked for the election of the House speaker to be postponed.
Nakhon Sawan Palang Pracharat MP Veerakorn Kamprakob’s request immediately drew protests from legislators in the opposite camp.
When the meeting resumed after a lunch break, the acting Speaker of House ordered a vote to decide whether the election of the House speaker should be postponed. 248 MPs voted to proceed as scheduled, 246 against with two abstentions.
It appeared that five Palang Pracharat MPs had voted incorrectly and asked for a correction, prompting protests from the Pheu Thai-led camp.
Another round of debate followed until the acting Speaker ruled that the vote result could not be changed.