By KAS CHANWANPEN
THE NATION WEEKEND
The date was selected as soon as the Royal Gazette published the endorsement of Chuan as House speaker and Suchart Tancharoen and Supachai Phosu as his deputies.
Though the Constitution does not set a deadline for the election of the head of government, it determines that parliamentarians must be notified at least three days in advance unless there is an emergency.
Chuan said notification letters would be sent to MPs on Saturday and both the Senate and House of Representatives would be involved in the voting.
Since construction of a new Parliament building has yet to be completed, the lawmakers will meet at the TOT auditorium in Bangkok’s Lak Si district.
Only nominees of parties that won at least 25 MP seats in the March 24 election will be eligible for consideration on Wednesday.
The premier’s election will be by open ballot. Each candidate’s name will be read aloud in alphabetical order and voters will indicate their assent or disapproval or choose to abstain.
The winner of a simple majority of 376 votes from among the 750 members of both houses will become prime minister. If no one wins a simple majority, the Constitution requires further votes until someone emerges victorious.
Junta chief General Prayut Chan-o-cha is the sole candidate of the Phalang Pracharat Party, which has 116 MP seats and is striving to lead a ruling coalition.
The Pheu Thai Party, which has 136 MPs, has nominated Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, Chadchart Sittipunt and Chaikasem Nitisiri for the top job. It remains still unclear which one will be fielded on Wednesday.
Other candidates contesting Wednesday’s vote could include Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. Though his parliamentary duties have been suspended by the Constitutional Court due to his media-shares case, his party insists the 41-year-old is qualified for the premier’s post.
Meanwhile, neither the pro- nor anti-junta bloc has been able to muster enough MPs to form a coalition in the more than 60 days since the March 24 polls. It is believed the government will be formed once a prime minister is chosen.
Though the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party is expected to take the lead in a multiparty coalition, it has not been able to confirm arrangements with its key partner, the Democrat Party, due to disagreements over who holds the Agriculture portfolio.
Former agriculture minister Somsak Thepsutin announced yesterday that he would fight for the position, saying agricultural policies had been the core of his election campaign and he needs to deliver on what he promised.
Democrat leader Jurin Laksanawisit said his party was waiting for Phalang Pracharat to sort out its internal issues before they meet to decide what other parties should join the Phalang Pracharat-led coalition.