Universities and media houses launch polling to gauge Prayut’s contentious 8-year team issue

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Academics from 8 universities and 8 digital media outlets are launching a digital poll to ask the public whether the 2014 coup leader, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, should stay in power longer than 8 years or not.

The poll called “the People’s Voice” will be launched via platforms of participating media agencies between August 20 and 21.

It came after opposition parties filed a petition on Wednesday for House Speaker Chuan Leekpai to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on Prayut’s premiership term limit.

According to the constitution, a premier can only stay in power for up to 8 years.

The opposition believes that Prayut’s term should be counted since he came into power via the coup that he led in 2014. This means that his term limit will come to an end next week on August 24.

Prayut’s supporters disagree, they believe that Prayut’s term should be counted from April 7, 2017, when the current charter came into effect.

Another interpretation is that Prayut’s term should be counted after the previous general election in March 2019.

Since the opposition parties have already filed the petition, it is now up to the court to decide whether Prayut can continue to be premier after August 24.

If the court decided against him, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan will become the interim premier until parliamentarians voted for a new prime minister.

The candidates for the new prime minister who were nominated and are still eligible are as follows:

  • Bhumjaithai Party = Anutin Charnvirakul
  • Democrat Party = Abhisit Vejjajiva
  • Pheu Thai Party = Chadchart Sittipunt, Chaikasem Nitisiri

As for the People’s Voice poll, the survey will be the second survey of its kind. The first poll was launched during the previous censure debate in July when more than 524,000 unique phone numbers have been used to participate in it.

The operation of the second poll will be the same where people have to use their phone number coupled with their name to vote via QR codes. One number can only vote one time.

The question that will be asked is whether General Prayut Chan-o-cha should be premier for more than 8 years, or not. It will not ask about the interpretation of the law as that would be up to the court to decide, the organizers said. The result is expected to be released on August 22.

The poll will be launched with cooperation by academics from 8 universities including:

  • Thammasat University
  • National Institute of Development Administration
  • Srinakharinwirot University
  • Rangsit University
  • Burapha University
  • Chiang Mai University
  • Prince of Songkla University
  • Ubon Ratchathani University.

The 8 participating digital media agencies include:

  • PPTV
  • Nation
  • Thairath TV
  • Workpoint News
  • The Standard
  • The Matter
  • The Momentum
  • The Reporters.

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