6 June 2024

Thailand’s Parliament, during a joint session for its first reading today (Wednesday), voted to reject a constitutional amendment draft, dubbed “the people’s charter”, which sought to abolish the Senate, revamp independent political institutions and the constitutional court and prevent coup d’états.

Drafted by reformist groups, led by “Re-solution” and endorsed by the signatures of over 135,000 people, 203 MPs and 3 senators voted in favour and 249 MPs and 224 senators voted against. 3 MPs and 3 senators abstained.

To pass, more than half of all the MPs and Senators combined need to vote in favour, including at least 84 senators.

The result is not a surprise, as it was not expected that the Senate would vote for its own extinction.

This is not the first attempt by the civil society and the people to seek constitutional amendments. The draft, by the Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw), backed by more than 100,000 signatures, was also rejected by Parliament in November 2020.

Parliament voted to accept only one constitutional amendment draft out of the 13 proposed by political parties in September 2021. The draft concerned the restoration of the two-ballot system, which would benefit major parties.

Key points of the rejected draft this time included:

  • There will only be a House of Representatives, with an increasing role for MPs in checking the performance of the cabinet.
  • A complete overhaul of the Constitutional Court. For the 9 positions on the court, 6 will be nominated by government, 6 by opposition MPs and 6 by the assemblies of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court. Of these 18 candidates, MPs will vote for three from each of the three sources.
  • All members of charter-mandated independent organisations will be automatically relieved of their positions as soon as this draft is enforceable.
  • Sections 257-261 of the existing charter, regarding national strategy and reforms, will be abolished.
  • All orders issued by coup makers since the coup on May 22nd, 2014 would be nullified.