PM vote floated as additional referendum question
published : 1 Apr 2016 at 19:42
writer: Mongkol Bangprapa
Do you agree to allow the first batch of senators after the election to jointly vote with MPs in choosing a prime minister?
Voters had better prepare themselves as this could be the question asked of them in the referendum along with whether they will accept the draft constitution.
The National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) voted 136-3 on Friday to send the question to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on its behalf.
The NLA has the authority to determine whether to add another question to the referendum and if so, what it should be. The NRSA can only recommend a question.
The question was one of the two floated by NRSA members, who later voted on only one.
Gen Lertrat Rattanavanich wanted the ask voters: "Do you agree with the setup of a national reconciliation commission after the constitution is endorsed?"
Wanchai Sornsiri wanted to ask voters whether it's okay to let senators join MPs in voting on a PM during the five-year transition period.
The draft charter allows only the 500 MPs to choose a PM by a majority vote.
"Senators can help screen out not-so-good or not-so-intelligent persons. At the same time, they can help support a good prime minister who in the past was usually not elected or toppled by street protests so he can steer reform and national strategy without the need to take to the streets, which may eventually lead to a coup," Mr Wanchai said.
But some NRSA members, including former foreign minister Kasit Piromya, view no question should be added to the referendum because it may be confusing, reduce the impact of the constitution or create a new conflict.
The question will then be sent to the NLA, which will consider on Thursday whether to add a question to the referendum and if so, what the question should be.
If voters say yes to both the draft charter and the additional question, constitutional writers will have to reconcile them in 30 days and send them to the Constitution Court to check whether it's really in sync for another 30 days.
An additional question might therefore delay the roadmap to the election sometime next year by another 30-45 days.