Four Constitutional amendment drafts were voted today by the joint sitting of the lower and upper houses, but the first two proposed by key Red Shirt leader Weng Tojirakarn and 102 coalition party MPs failed to pass their first readings as they received less than half of the possible vote.
The Democrat-led coalition government proposed the other two draft amendments for the deliberation of a joint session of Parliament after the Cabinet last week agreed with the results of the study by the Committee for Political Reform and Charter Amendment, chaired by Prof Sombat Thamrong-thanyawong, that Article 190 requiring parliamentary approval of any treaty to be signed with other countries and Articles 93 and 98 on amending the electoral system should be amended.
There are 470 MPs and 150 senators. The amendments require at least 311 votes to pass their first readings.
The Thursday voting began with the draft of the People’s Committee for Amending the 2007 Constitution led by United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leader Dr Weng, proposed in 2008 and similar to the now scrapped 1997 Constitution. But only 222 MPs and senators voted for it, 235 voted against and 123 abstained from making any decision.
The second draft, proposed by 102 coalition party MPs, also failed to pass its first reading with only 148 lawmakers voting for it, while 177 of them rejected it and 212 abstained.
The third draft proposed by the government on Articles 93 and 98 to change electoral system from multiple to single constituency however passed the first reading with 330 MPs and senators voting for it while 156 were against and 34 abstained.
Most opposition Puea Thai Party MPs were absent for the vote as earlier announced by key opposition leaders who said they would walk out of the joint session and not join any process of charter amendment if Dr Weng’s draft is rejected.
After the third draft proposed by the government passes its first reading, a special committee consisting of 18 MPs and six senators has been set up to consider the draft in 15 days before re-submission to the joint session of Parliament for a second reading.
The Puea Thai Party however refused to name its representatives for the newly-formed committee, saying the party disagreed with the government-sponsored drafts from the beginning.
In the second reading, an overall majority vote is required in order to move the draft ahead to the third reading for the final decision.
More than half of the members of the joint sitting of the Parliament voting is needed in the third reading and the approved draft will be sent to the prime minister within 20 days so that he will forward it for royal endorsement.
A similar process will be applied to the fourth draft if it passes its first reading today. (MCOT online news)