Hotly-contested bill favouring small parties in elections killed
An election bill designed to benefit small political parties with a better chance of winning party-list MP seats in the next general elections was effectively killed this morning after the Parliament failed to muster a quorum for a vote on it.
The special joint parliamentary session of MPs and members of the Senate was called by Parliament President Chuan Leekpai as a last-ditch attempt to save the bill.
The session waited for around 90 minutes to achieve the quorum but eventually only 349 of the parliamentarians were present. The session would need 365 members for the quorum.
Senators were largely absent from the session while only a handful of MPs of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party were present.
There was also a conspicuous absence of MPs of Pheu Thai, the main opposition party, which had made clear its opposition to the bill which was designed to favour small political parties in calculating party-list seats.
Today was the 180-day deadline for the bill to be adopted by the Parliament. With the bill now practically dead, the Parliament will have to go back to the original version of the bill submitted by the Cabinet earlier. It uses a different method of calculation that would limit the chance of small parties in winning party-list seats.
Political analysists see the killing of the bill as another political game that serves no public interest. Palang Pracharath, the core ruling coalition party, had earlier supported the bill with the hope that it would need support from small parties in the next general elections. Votes from the small parties were crucial in helping Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and members of the Cabinet survive the recent no-confidence vote.
Attempts to have the controversial bill voted on last week had failed also for a lack of quorum. There have been widespread criticisms of MPs and senators for their behavior.