The Thai Parliament yesterday, June 22nd, has passed the referendum law in its third reading, meaning constitutional amendments must be voted for approval or disapproval by a public referendum before proceeding with a draft charter.
After three hours of debate yesterday morning, MPs of both houses and senators have voted 611-4 in its favor with two abstentions.
According to the law, a referendum can be held in five cases:
- for constitutional amendments
- when issues are claimed necessary by the Thai cabinet
- when issues are required by law that a referendum should be held
- when issues are claimed necessary by Parliament votes
- when at least 50,000 voters propose to the cabinet issues for approval
The law allows voters outside the Kingdom of Thailand to exercise the referendum at their country of residence for the first time. Domestic voting can also be done by mail and electronic means.
Those who are eligible to vote are Thai nationals with the age of 18 years old or more and foreigners who have held Thai citizenship for at least five years on the date of the referendum. Their name must also be on the house registration in the registered voting district or areas for not less than 90 days before a voting date.
In order for the resolution to be lawfully effective, more than half of eligible voters must exercise their right to vote and more than half of them must either vote yes or no on the constitution.
The referendum law will now pave the way for a referendum to be held to ask people whether they want a new constitution to be rewritten as proposed by the opposition.
As of today, a total of 13 constitution amendment drafts will be debated before MPs and senators cast votes at the end of the session on the following day. About five drafts from oppositional parties, including the Move Forward Party, were proposed and will be discussed. The proposals include the revocation of the Senate’s power to select the Prime Minister, the abolishment of the 20-year national strategy, remaining junta power, and other legacies from the 2014 coup.
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