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Charter amendment bill now with House Speaker for second then final readings

The constitutional amendments bill, which passed its first reading in a joint sitting of Thailand’s House and Senate in late June, has been sent to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai to be added to the meeting agenda for its second and third readings.

Already vetted by a joint panel of 30 MPs and 15 senators, the bill, which was proposed by Democrat Party leader Jurin Laksanavisit, is the only one of 13 drafts overwhelmingly endorsed by 342 MPs and 210 senators. The other 12 drafts were automatically dropped.

The bill seeks to amend Sections 83 and 91 of the current charter. In essence, it seeks to increase the number of MPs from 350 to 400 and to reduce the number of party-list MPs from 150 to 100. It also seeks to restore the two-ballot electoral system, one for constituency seats and the other for party-list seats.

More importantly, the proposed amendment of Section 91 seeks to replace the complicated way of calculating the party-list seats with a simple method based on the nation-wide party-list ballots won in the election. The complicated calculation of party-list seats in the last election denied the Pheu Thai party, which came first in the poll, of most party-list seats it should have won.

On top of Sections 83 and 91, the scrutiny committee went further, to amend Section 85 of the charter, by stipulating that a candidate who receives more votes, excluding the “Vote No” votes cast, will be declared the winner.

The average number of people to be represented by one MP will be calculated from the census taken a year before the election year. In case a province has a population fewer than the average number eligible for an MP, that province can have one MP.

The scrutiny committee also added a clause to the provisional chapter of the Constitution that changes to the election law must be completed within 120 days of the promulgation of this amendments bill.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

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