11 July 2024

Thailand’s opposition Pheu Thai party is not concerned whether the constitutional amendments will be approved by the Senate, as the party expects to win the next election, said opposition chief whip Sutin Klangsang today (Wednesday), ahead of the vote whether to accept the popular two-ballot system proposition on Friday.

The amendment to revert to the old two-ballot system, with one for 400 constitutional MPs and the other for 100 party-list MPs, instead of the current proportional representation system, is due to be voted on in the joint sitting of the House and the Senate this Friday.

The amendments bill needs at least 84 senators to vote in favour for its passage through the third reading.

For the time being, Mr. Sutin, Pheu Thai MP for Maha Sarakham province, said that there is a 50:50 chance of the bill passing its third reading.

Opposition chief whip, Sutin Klangsang

The two-ballot system is favoured by major parties, as it would give away most of the party-list seats to major parties, unlike the current system in which small parties can still get a seat in the House.

The one-ballot system used in the 2019 general elections was meant to deter major parties particularly Pheu Thai, from forming a single-party government or being a majority in the coalition, but it instead rewarded the newcomer Future Forward Party which gained an unexpected amount of support but was later dissolved in court.

Sutin defends the two-ballot system, noting that it will reduce the number of parties to just a handful, like in many western democracies, which will help strengthen the party system. Meanwhile, a coalition of seven smaller government parties announced today (Wednesday) that they will vote against the constitutional amendments.

Dr. Ravee Matchamadol, leader of the New Palangdharma Party and sole party-list MP for the party, told the media at parliament today that each of the seven small parties, has only one party-list seat in the House, so will vote against the amendments because the current Constitution has the consent of the majority of Thai people through a referendum.

The proportional representation electoral system is fair as all parties, big or small, should be represented in parliament, said Dr. Ravee, adding that a referendum should be held before the current charter is amended.

Mr. Nikorn Chamnong, a party-list MP for Chart Thai Pattana, a mid-sized party, said today that they will allow its MPs a free vote on Friday, adding that he personally favours the two-ballot electoral system.

Democrat MP Chinnavorn Boonyakiat said the party will definitely vote for the amendments, because it proposed the amendments in the first place, and that he is confident that the bill will pass with the approval of senators, although several have indicated that they will vote against it.