Pheu Thai to use quorum as weapon against ‘500 divider’ electoral bill
A special Parliament meeting on the revised MP election bill scheduled for Monday appears to be doomed as the main opposition party Pheu Thai has sworn to stop a quorum from being formed.
Pheu Thai leader Cholanan Srikaew, who also leads the parliamentary opposition, said on Saturday that MPs from his party will not allow a quorum to be formed.
He said this was the “best solution” to block the revised version’s system of using the 500 figure in calculating the number of party-list MPs – a system that he describes as being “unconstitutional and against principles”.
“Pheu Thai prefers blocking the ‘500 divider’ bill so we can get the ‘100 divider’ bill in the next election,” Cholanan said.
In a Facebook post, the Pheu Thai leader said that if the “500 divider” bill managed to pass the final reading, then the Constitutional Court will be asked to check if it was constitutional. A court rejection of the bill would raise the risk of there being no electoral law if Parliament is dissolved abruptly, he added.
The original bill passed its first reading on February 24, and in its second reading on July 6, the Parliament voted to approve the system of dividing the total number of party-list votes by 500 rather than 100 in the original version that was drafted and submitted to Cabinet by the Election Commission.
However, a parliamentary meeting on the bill’s final reading was adjourned twice due to a lack of quorum. Many MPs from Pheu Thai and the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, as well as several senators, chose not to record their attendance despite being physically present in the chamber, media reports said.
Last Thursday, Parliament President Chuan Leekpai called a special meeting of the two Houses on August 15 in a last-ditch effort to save the bill from lapsing.
The organic law’s revised version needs to pass the final reading within the 180-day deadline, which is August 15, or its original version will be enacted, according to the Constitution.