Parliament votes for only two amendment motions out of seven

On the second day of a parliamentary debate on constitutional revision, MPs and senators voted to accept two proposals on constitutional amendment while rejecting five others.

One of the drafts that were accepted was from the opposition, which will create a constitution drafting assembly composed of 200 elected members.

The other draft was written by the government coalition and will create a constitution drafting assembly composed of 50 appointed members and 150 elected members.

Both drafts are an amendment to Section 256, which governs how the charter can be revised. They received 576 and 647 ‘yes’ votes, respectively.

This vote was part of the first reading on constitutional amendments. Two more further readings in parliament will be required.

Although the other proposals received more favorable votes than not, the majority of government MPs and senators abstained from voting on them. As such, they failed to pass, as the 2017 constitution requires at least a third of the Senate, or 83 senators, to vote in favor during the first reading.

Four of the failed amendments were from the opposition, who proposed ending the role of the Senate in supervising national reform, eliminating the Senate’s power to vote for a prime minister, withdrawing the legal amnesty granted to the 2014 coupmakers and returning to a double ballot electoral system.

The final proposal that failed to pass was proposed by iLaw, a non-governmental organization, which included a more comprehensive set of political reforms.

While the iLaw draft was backed by over 100,000 signatories, it came under heavy attack from government-aligned figures such as Palang Pracharath deputy leader Paiboon Nititawan who raised questions about iLaw’s foreign sources of funding. Only three senators voted to accept the iLaw draft.

Pheu Thai party secretary Prasert Jantararuangtong said the party was “disappointed” by the failure of this motion and that it amounted to a denial of popular participation in politics. Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat warned that an unamended 2017 constitution represents a continuing “time bomb”.

The success of both the government and opposition proposals represents a clear step forward towards constitutional revision, but they are unlikely to satisfy pro-reform protestors whose underlying demands have yet to be addressed.

Parliament will now continue on to the next reading of the amendments in 45 days, having appointed a new committee to facilitate this process.

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