Two Ballot System, A Good Precedent For Future Constitutional Amendments

Two Ballot System, A Good Precedent For Future Constitutional Amendments

Two Ballot System, A Good Precedent For Future Constitutional Amendments

Constitutional amendments regarding a two ballot system takes effect from November 22nd after the publication in the Royal Gazette on November 21st.

Out of a total of 13 drafts proposed earlier, only the constitutional amendment proposal on the two ballot system was accepted in parliament.

Only last week, the amendment draft which sought to abolish the system of 250 non- elected members of the Senate was rejected in Parliament.

Normally, Constitutional amendments are not taken lightly by the government side with any changes proposed tending to favor democracy rejected. 

The single-ballot system was designed to undermine major parties such as Pheu Thai,
currently the biggest Opposition party, which won the most constituency seats, but was not awarded a single party-list MP.

Why was the amendment of the 2 ballot system which will favor largest opposition party Pheu Thai allowed to pass through?

The amendment passed with 472 votes with 323 MPs and 149 Senators voting for it, 23 MPs and 10 Senators voted against, while 121 Mps and 66 senators abstained from voting.

What was different this time is that the Senators were split in their voting which is usually not the case, especially when it concerns constitutional amendments.

The answer may lie in the turmoil in Palang Pracharath party.

Due to the ballot system used in the last elections, Palang Pracharath is the core government party but have not been given any major ministerial positions, most of the top ministries have gone to other parties, mainly Democrat and Bhumjai Thai parties.

With PM Prayuth Chan-ocha’s falling popularity due to his Covid 19 and economic mismanagement and no achievements that can be credited to the party, Palang Pracharath is finding it hard to campaign with their constituencies effectively.

It’s no secret that Secretary-General, Thamanat Prompow of Palang Pracharath party is the power broker in the party with a following of 30-40 MPs , while he holds no cabinet position and does all the heavy lifting for the party.

It is also a known fact that he has registered his own party.

The speculation seems to be that if the single ballot system was continued then the Secretary-General would probably leave Palang Pracharath which would surely lead to the fall of the party.

Thamanat leaned on General Prawit Wangsuwan, party leader, and his legal advisor Paiboon Nititawan to support the 2 ballot system amendment.

General Prawit seems to have chosen the survival of the party over General Prayuth as the senators that voted against the 2 ballot system or abstained from voting belong to General Prayuth’s camp.

What pro-democracy groups can take from this though is that political situations are fluid and never final. The stars of different groups can sometimes align and that’s when the pro-democracy group must push their advantage. 

The 2 ballot system amendment approval is a good precedent for future constitutional amendments which would make the constitution more democratic.

Written By - Patra Manas