The bill seeking a 2017 Constitutional Amendment was rejected during a 10-hour joint Parliament session yesterday, March 17th, as a total vote to amend the charter had failed to reach half of all 538 members of the parliament.
A joint-parliament session was scheduled yesterday afternoon to deliberate and vote on the Constitutional Amendment bill in its third reading. The bill sought to set up a so-called “people’s constitution-drafting assembly” to write a new constitution as the current constitution was legislated during a military coup in 2017, led by General Prayut Chan-O’Cha, now Prime Minister.
In order for the bill to pass, the Parliament needed the endorsement of at least one-third of senators and at least 369 votes from MPs.
At the end of the session the results were: a total of 208 votes to amend the Constitution from 206 MPs and 2 Senators, 4 against from 4 Senators, 94 abstentions from 10 MPs and 84 Senators, and 136 no vote from 9 MPs and 127 Senators. Many government-coalition partners from Bhumjaithai MPs had also walked out in response during the session, resulting in another failure in an attempt to amend the current constitution.
The vote came after the Constitutional Court’s ruling last week, stating that the parliament holds the power and duty to draft a new constitution only if a total of two national referendums must proceed first for the public consent.
The failure also means the whole process of the amendment process must start again but this time with a national referendum that would ask the people of the country overall whether they want the amendment or not, prior to the charter vote in the parliament. This could see the process take months more, if not years.
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