Court asked again to rule on list-MP formula

Court asked again to rule on list-MP formula

Raksagecha Chaechai, secretary-general of the Office of the Ombudsmen, announces the ombudsmen's deicison on election-related issues at the office on Friday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Raksagecha Chaechai, secretary-general of the Office of the Ombudsmen, announces the ombudsmen's deicison on election-related issues at the office on Friday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

All three ombudsmen have voted to ask the Constitutional Court to rule whether some provisions of the MP law involving the allocation of party-list MPs are constitutional but dismissed calls to nullify the March 24 election.

Ruangkrai Leekijwattana of the Pheu Thai Party and Virat Kullayasiri of the Democrat Party earlier submitted petitions to the ombudsmen on some election-related issues. 

The petitions asked them to rule whether the poll was conducted honestly and fairly and whether some of the Election Commission’s actions violate the constitution or related laws to the point the voting results should be voided.   

Raksagecha Chaechai, the office’s secretary-general, said on Friday while there were some inconsistencies in the EC’s announcements on poll results, they were intended to give the public preliminary information. The EC, therefore, did not perform its duty dishonestly.

On the failure to count the ballots from New Zealand, which came after the vote ended, the EC made the decision based on related laws, which was not unconstitutional. 

On the EC’s failure to inform the public of the results, the imbudsmen viewed the EC put them up on a board in front of each voting unit for everyone to see. As a result, it was not true that the EC did not inform the public, Mr Raksagecha said. 

Parties and several civic groups have been asking the EC to reveal the results of each polling unit instead of those at the constituency level, but the EC has declined, citing the same reason given by the ombudsmen. There are some 92,320 poll units in 350 constituencies nationwide.

On the issue of party-list allocation, the ombudsmen were of the opinion the formula outlined in the MP Election Act added criteria and was different from what is stipulated in the constitution.

Mr Raksagecha said while the constitution provided the calculation method for the “quota” of party-list MPs, the MP law added the phrase “initial quota”.

“This brings calculation results which are not in line with the criteria laid down under Section 91 of the constitution, calling into question the constitutionality of the provisions. The ombudsmen, therefore, decided to forward the case to the Constitutional Court for a ruling,” he said.

The EC had earlier asked the court to make the same ruling but the court voted 7-2 to dismiss its petition, saying it is the EC’s duty to decide on the formula to be used and that the court can only rule after it makes that decision.

The issue of which formula should be used in caclulating the number of list MPs for each party is crucial after unofficial results show the anti-coup coalition have only a few seats more than the pro-military side. One formula will give the former the numbers that allow it to form a government while the other will give the latter the leverage.

In any case, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will continue to be the prime minister since 250 appointed senators will likely vote for him. However, his government will face obstacles in votes on crucial issues such as annual budget, other key laws and no-confidence debates because senators are not allowed to help MPs vote on them.   

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