House 'won't be dissolved'
PM puts amending electoral system first
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has shot down speculation that the House of Representatives will be dissolved before two organic laws related to the election system are amended.
Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana revealed after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that Gen Prayut would not entertain such an idea.
The spokesman made the remarks after a constitutional amendment bill aimed at restoring the two-ballot electoral system was royally endorsed and published in the Royal Gazette on Sunday.
Under the charter amendment, the number of constituency MPs would be increased from 350 to 400 and the number of list MPs would be decreased from 150 to 100.
Two ballots will be used in national polls, one for choosing a constituency MP and the other for a list MP.
This marks a departure from the single-ballot method used in the last general election in 2019.
To reflect the changes to the charter, two organic laws governing the election of MPs and political parties will be amended.
However, observers noted that an internal conflict within the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) may prompt the prime minister to decide to dissolve the House even before the amendments are completed.
The conflict relates to controversy surrounding Capt Thamanat Prompow. Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon stepped in earlier to resolve this by ensuring Capt Thamanat stays on as the party's secretary-general.
Gen Prawit said the party's executive structure remains unchanged even though the issue was raised during an executive party committee meeting last month.
The meeting took place amid speculation that an overhaul of the party's executive board may be on the cards. This gained traction after Gen Prayut summoned core members of the PPRP's various factions to a meeting at Government House.
Such a revamp could have seen the removal of Capt Thamanat as secretary-general after he was kicked out of the cabinet for allegedly engineering a plot to oust the prime minister.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Tuesday the Election Commission (EC) had finished drafting a government-sponsored bill to amend the organic law on the elections of MPs.
The draft has been published on the EC's website to gather public feedback, which will be used to improve the bill before it is sent back to the cabinet within the next month, Mr Wissanu said.
The cabinet will forward it to the Council of State for scrutiny before sending it to parliament in January, he said.
Mr Wissanu said the coalition parties that make up the government, as well as the opposition, can submit their own versions of the bill directly to parliament, but that the government-sponsored bill would be considered the main reference during parliamentary deliberation.
As for another bill to amend the organic law on political parties, Mr Wissanu said the EC was working on the matter, and the bill would also be submitted to parliament by January.
Asked what would happen if the House were dissolved before the two amended laws were enacted, Mr Wissanu said: "It would be a mess. Let's pray that doesn't happen."
Chief opposition whip and Pheu Thai Party MP Sutin Klungsang said that Pheu Thai and the Move Forward Party agreed they will table their own versions of the bills to amend the two organic laws.
This is because they failed to see eye to eye on all issues, especially the method used to calculate votes, Mr Sutin said, adding that Pheu Thai was also gathering public opinion on the party's amendment bills.