Breakaway faction of Democrat Party will join Move Forward in seeking constitutional change

A breakaway faction of the Democrat Party announced on Thursday that it would join the progressive Move Forward Party in seeking constitutional amendments that would curtail the power of the military-appointed senate.

The faction of four senior Democrat members led by Panich Vikitsreth said that they see curtailing the ability of the senate to help select a prime minister as a necessary step in bridging the current political divide.

The Democrat Party broke its election promise of not joining parties led by the 2014 coup makers when it joined the military-backed Palang Pracharath Party after the last election.

The move severely dented its popularity among voters. The party was further hampered when reports of party infighting leaked out into the public earlier this year.

Panich said that he would begin canvassing his party members to convince them to join Move Forward in amending the constitution to curtail the senate. It is unclear what kind of numbers he has currently.

“We knew that this clause [senate votes from prime minister] would be problematic,” Panich told Thai Enquirer.

“The clause is obviously not democratic at all. The people that should be able to select the prime minister should be selected by representatives of the people and not appointed.”

Move Forward had been the only opposition party willing to touch the issue with other major opposition members like Pheu Thai preferring to work through a constitutional reform committee.

Student-led protests have gripped the country over the past two months with students calling for a rewrite of the military-drafted constitution specifically pointing to the military-appointed senate as an especially acute aberration of the democratic process.

The protests originally began in February after the dissolution of the progressive Future Forward Party but were abruptly halted due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

As the pandemic subsided in Thailand, the protests have started up again – fueled by economic uncertainty and anti-government sentiment.

Major rallies are planned for this month, while the government continues to press forward with a program of litigation and arrests targeted at protest leaders.

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