Respect voices of the people

Respect voices of the people

A woman casts her ballot at a polling station during Thailand's general election in Bangkok on May 14, 2023. (Photo by Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP)
A woman casts her ballot at a polling station during Thailand's general election in Bangkok on May 14, 2023. (Photo by Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP)

Thai voters have fulfilled their duty to uphold democracy. It is now the responsibility of parties, politicians, and senators to play their roles in ensuring that the country's democratic development proceeds in accordance with the will of the voters.

It remains uncertain which party will ultimately govern. Even if Pheu Thai or Move Forward Party wins the election by securing the highest number as polls suggest, it is possible the party might not be able to form a government despite winning the most of seats -- similar to what happened in the 2019 election.

According to the constitution, the winning party does not automatically have the right to form a government. A party with fewer seats can also vie for the opportunity to form a government concurrently.

However, based on political etiquette, the party that wins the election should be given the chance to form a coalition government first.

If this party fails to secure a majority of seats in the House, then the opportunity shifts to the party with fewer seats. In the initial stages after the election, this norm should be adhered to respect the will of the voters.

The weeks following the election will be full of intense negotiations and horse trading among parties to form a new government.

It remains uncertain whether the party that wins this election will be able to rally support from at least 375 MPs, the threshold required to ensure that its candidate is elected as the prime minister.

Under the constitution, the prime minister must secure the support of more than half the total number of members in parliament, which amounts to 500 MPs and 250 appointed senators.

For five years after the 2019 election, the Senate consists entirely of appointed members, all chosen directly or indirectly by the coup makers in 2014. As per the constitution, the Senate still shares power with the Lower House in voting for the selection of the prime minister.

There are concerns the 250-seat Senate, whose positions were given to them by the junta government led by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, may not align with the will of the majority votes.

This could lead to the party that achieved victory in the election being unable to govern and the situation may end up with a minority government being formed.

It is crucial for the senators not only to respect the significance of this election in upholding democracy and putting an end to the political turbulence that has plagued the country for decades.

They must also acknowledge that the election's outcome must not only reflect the voters' will in electing MPs but also the prime minister, as parties contesting the election must nominate their candidates for prime minister, as required by the charter.

How can the conflicts that hinder the country's development and competitiveness come to an end if 250 individuals can override the voices of tens of millions of people?

It needs to be said that Gen Prayut deserves praise for his decision to compete in this democratic election as a politician, which demonstrates his respect for democratic principles.

The senators must also show their commitment to respecting the path of democracy.

While this election reflects the desire of a large number of people to witness change in the country, it is now time for all concerned parties to set aside their self-interest and respect the will of the voters, thereby propelling the country and its democracy forward.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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