Democrat Party meeting to elect leader collapses again

Democrat Party meeting to elect leader collapses again

Members of the Democrat Party show up at Miracle Grand Convention Hotel in Bangkok on Sunday. (Screenshot from the party's Facebook page)
Members of the Democrat Party show up at Miracle Grand Convention Hotel in Bangkok on Sunday. (Screenshot from the party's Facebook page)

A planned general assembly of the Democrat Party, scheduled for Sunday at the Miracle Grand Convention Hotel in Bangkok to elect the new leader and the executive committee, collapsed again due to a lack of quorum.

The election of the new leader and the executive committee became necessary after Jurin Laksanawisit, then party leader, on the night of May 14 announced his resignation to take responsibility for the party's poor showing in the May 14 election, winning only 25 seats in the House of Representatives – about half the number it won in the 2019 poll.

The party called the first general assembly for July 9 to elect the new leader and executive committee, but it could not proceed due to a lack of quorum. It was reported that the meeting was fraught with conflict between two camps vying for the party leadership.

On Sunday, party members were initially expected to gather at the hotel from 8.30am and the meeting was to start at 9.30am.

Core party members including Mr Jurin, caretaker secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on, and former party leaders Chuan Leekpai, Banyat Bantadtan and Abhisit Vejjajiva were all ready for the meeting, but the turnout by other party members was low.

At 9.30am, Sutham Rahong, the party director, said only 210 members had signed in, 40 short of the 250 required to make a quorum.

The party members who had turned up agreed to wait.

Mr Chalermchai, the caretaker secretary-general, reportedly appeared tense. He kept walking in and out of the meeting room, telling reporters to stay put for an announcement.

At 10.36am, Mr Sutham said the number of party members in attendance was only 223, still short of 250. The scheduled party meeting subsequently collapsed.

Some party members gradually left, while others remained there discussing the tense situation in groups.

Mr Chalermchai called a media briefing. He said the lack of quorum on two occasions was intentionally caused by a group of party members, but did not elaborate.

He condemned the perpetrators, saying that doing so contravened the Democrat Party principles declared at its founding on April 6, 1946.

Mr Chalermchai said on July 9 some party members intentionally stayed out of the meeting without signing in. On Sunday Aug 6, many were away in Laos for a tour, he said.

He called for party members to abide by party regulations, adding that each of the collapses meant a loss of 3-4 million baht from people's donations to the party.

Mr Chalermchai said he was ready to wash his hands of politics if he was found to be the party's problem.

Asked when he thought a new meeting could be called, Mr Chalermchai said this would be decided by a meeting of the caretaker executive committee.

Mallika Boonmeetrakul Mahasuk, a former party list MP, called for the caretaker executive committee members and party advisers to meet and exchange opinions to bring the party out of the deadlock.

In her understanding, the party is now divided into two blocs with opposing opinions. At this time of political difficulty, all sides should talk to one another, she said.

Prior to the scheduled meeting on Sunday, Sathit Pitutecha, a Democrat Party deputy leader for the Central region, said he would nominate Mr Abhisit for the post of party leader.

"Mr Abhisit is suitable for the party leadership in this situation. I believe he would be able to lead the party to regain popularity," he said.

In the planned Sunday meeting, Narapat Kaewthong, a deputy party leader, was expected to be nominated for the post of party leader with support from 19-20 MPs in Mr Chalermchai's bloc while the other group wanted Mr Abhisit back in the post.

The party was also to discuss whether to join a coalition government being formed by the Pheu Thai Party. The two blocs reportedly held conflicting opinions over this matter. While Mr Chalermchai's group had no objection to join, the other group disagreed, saying the party should be in the opposition.

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