Ahead of the end of the Senate term early next year, there is a a constitutional amendment before the Thai parliament to move from the current system of one elected senator per province (77) and 73 appointed Senators to 200 elected Senators. The amendment will make other changes. The Nation:
The committee also removes a ban on parents, spouses and children of MPs, former MPs and political office holders, former party members, and former local politicians who have been out of their posts for less than five years, from applying as senatorial candidates.
Abhisit has stated that the Senators discussing this may be a conflict of interest and unconstitutional. The Bangkok Post:
Permitting senators to deliberate and influence an amendment to sections of the charter relating to the senate itself may contradict the constitution, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Monday.
More than 200 MPs and senators have tabled proposed amendments for debate in the second reading of the legislation tomorrow to ensure the bill’s neutrality and fairness, Mr Abhisit said.
However, he warned that questions have been raised as to whether allowing senators who would be directly affected by the change to amend sections of the constitution is a conflict of interest and against the law.
The law prohibits MPs and senators from having roles or duties that pose a conflict of interest and place them in the position of stakeholder in relation to policies that they oversee, the opposition leader added.
BP: If so, then what about when the Abhisit government amended the constitution in 2011 from multi-seat constituencies (400 constituency seats and 80 party list seats) to single-seat constituencies (375 constituency seats and 125 party list seats)? The amendment the electoral system to move from multi-seat constituencies to single-seat constituencies was something that the coalition allies of the Democrats wanted, but increasing the number of party-list seats from 80 to 125 was something that the Democrats wanted. Based on the results of the 2007 general election, the Democrats would have gained the most – see here, here, and here – but the weak performance of the Democrats led to their party vote declining dramatically so in the end they didn’t gain. Nevertheless, MPs deliberated on and voted on amendments which directly benefitted them so wasn’t this then also a conflict of interest, to apply the logic that Abhisit using now? If the Senators can’t deliberate and vote on the Bill, is reform of the Senate then possible?