Cabinet approves 3 charter-change referendums
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Cabinet approves 3 charter-change referendums

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin speaks after the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday. (Photo: Royal Thai Government)
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin speaks after the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday. (Photo: Royal Thai Government)

The cabinet has agreed in principle that changing the constitution will require three referendumns and should be completed before the current government's term ends.

After the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said the cabinet approved the three-referendum proposal made by the government-appointed referendum study panel headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai.

The first referendum would ask voters whether they agreed with the need to write a new charter. If the majority agreed, the second referendum would ask if Section 256 should be amended, to pave the way for the drafting of the new constitution.

If approved, after the new charter was written it would be put to a third referendum, asking voters to decide whether it should be adopted.

The cabinet also agreed that the Referendum Act 2021 should be amended to do away with the “double majority” rule, where more than 50% of eligible voters must participate in a referendum and a majority of those voting must approve the new charter, Mr Srettha said.

Amending the act would be instrumental in promoting democracy, he added. 

Chartthaipattana Party list MP Nikorn Chamnong said the cabinet meeting was briefed on how the three referendums would be conducted and what was involved. 

Mr Nikorn heads the sub-committee gathering opinions on the proposal to rewrite the whole 2017 charter, which is under the Phumtham panel.

He said the central question to be put to voters in the first referendum had to do with whether they supported the amendment of the constitution, except for Chapters 1 and 2.

Chapter 1 defines Thailand as a single, indivisible kingdom with a democratic regime and the King as head of state, while Chapter 2 stipulates sections pertaining to royal prerogatives.

The permanent secretariat of the Prime Minister's Office would coordinate with the Election Commission to work out practical steps for organising the referendums.

Mr Nikorn said he expected the first referendum to be held at the end of July or in early August, at a cost of around 3.2 billion baht. 

He also said Mr Phumtham believed the proposed amendment to the Referendum Act and the double-majority rule would be successful.

Mr Nikorn said he had total confidence the three referendums and the entire process associated with drafting a new charter would be completed before the government leaves office at the end of its four-year  term. 

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