NLA opposes limited PM choice, single ballot

NLA opposes limited PM choice, single ballot

The National Legislative Assembly on Friday voted to oppose provisions in the draft constitution allowing single ballots for elections and a limited prime minister choice.

The vote endorsed an NLA committee's comments and suggestions for the draft charter and resolved to forward them to the Constitution Drafting Committee for consideration as it prepares a final document to be put up for a public referendum, likely on July 31.

Klanarong Chantik, vice chairman of the committee, argued before the full NLA that voters should continue to use two ballots, as that was the system they are accustomed to. One ballot would be for constituency representatives and the other for party-list candidates.

Two ballots would better serve voters' needs because they could select a favourite constituency candidate from one political party and a favourite list candidate from another party, Mr Klanarong said.

He also asserted that two ballots make vote-buying more difficult.

The committee called for constituencies of three MPs each also to thwart vote-buying and to relieve local competition.

The NLA's committee opposed the idea of having each party propose three PM nominees before an election, reasoning they do not want to limit Parliament's choice of a prime minister. Besides, if a nominated person does not win the election, it could be viewed as undemocratic. This by no means implies the NLA favours only elected prime ministers.

The NLA did see the necessity of a so-called "crisis panel" to solve national emergencies declared by parliament. It wants the panel to be comprised of heads of the Constitutional Court, the armed forces, the police and independent organisations, as well as the permanent secretary for defence and others specified by the charter.

The NLA's comments also support the mixed-member proportional-representation system for parliament to reflect the popularity of political parties and make every vote count. It proposed 500 MPs consisting of 350 constituency representatives and 150 list MPs.

The NLA proposed there be 200 senators who should be selected from groups of professionals and the social sector for checks and balances.

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