The joint House and Senate sitting voted on Wednesday to reject the renomination of Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat for prime minister because a parliamentary regulation bans it, Parliament President Wan Muhamad Noor Matha said.
Mr Wan made the announcement after 715 parliamentarians voted electronically about 5.10pm. The parliament president called the vote after a lengthy debate on the issue, which started shortly after the meeting opened at 9.30am.
In the joint sitting, 394 parliamentarians, most of them unelected senators, voted against Mr Pita's renomination, 312 voted to support it, eight abstained and one did not exercise the right to vote.
Mr Wan said the rejection was by majority vote, because half the votes in the joint sitting was 374. The number was adjusted after Mr Pita was suspended from duty as an MP by the Constitutional Court earlier in the day.
After the vote Mr Wan brought the session to a close. He scheduled the next attempt to choose a premier for July 27, when the Pheu Thai Party is expected to propose its candidate. Businessman Srettha Thavisin is the likely choice, but the composition of the coalition might change.
The mere presence of the progressive Move Forward Party in the current eight-party coalition alongside Pheu Thai is still seen as a deal-breaker for many of the senators. If the Pheu Thai candidate does not receive a majority, he or she will not get a second chance.
Mr Pita warned on Tuesday of such a scenario, saying that a vote to block his renomination would set a risky precedent for parliament. (Story continues below)
Pro-Pita demonstrators gather at the parliament on Wednesday to support him for prime minister. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Before the vote, parliamentarians spent hours disputing whether the renomination was allowed or not.
Opponents said parliamentary session regulation No.41 prohibited the resubmission of a failed motion to the parliament during the same parliamentary session. They said Mr Pita's nomination had been rejected last week and there was no new development that could justify its resubmission.
Pro-Pita parliamentarians emphasised that the regulation applied to general motions and not to the prime ministerial nomination. They said that it was a nomination, not a motion. They also said that parliamentarians should respect the choice made by the voters at the May 14 general election.
After the vote, several senators and MPs left parliament by boat, from the rear of the parliament compound, to avoid protesters who are gathered at the front of the complexn.
Mr Pita’s Move Forward Party won the election, which cost taxpayers 6 billion baht, with 151 House seats. Recently he said he would make way for the Pheu Thai Party to nominate a prime minister if his bid failed.
Pheu Thai won 141 House seats and the two parties are the key members of the current coalition.
Representatives and senators meet for a vote on the renomination of Pita Limjaroenrat for prime minister at the parliament on Wednesday. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)