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Despite successful charter change bid, Yingluck govt could still dissolve House:analysts

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-9-29 19:52:39

Despite the victory of her party in its constitutional amendment bid to have Thai senators elected in a nationwide polls, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra could still dissolve the House of Representatives and call for a snap elections, political analysts here said.

The Yingluck government has scored its latest victory when 358 Pheu Thai (For Thais)-led government MPs and senators voted for the amendment of the constitution to have future senators elected in nationwide polls instead of some of them being elected and others being appointed by heads of independent agencies as stipulated in the 2007 charter.

The measure containing the amendment will be submitted to His Majesty the King within 20 days for final approval before it is turned into law, according to Suranand Vejjajiva, secretary general to the lady premier.

Nevertheless, the political fate of the elected government will almost certainly hinge upon a ruling of the Constitutional Court as to whether such an amendment is "constitutional" or not in the first place.

"The Prime Minister is legally obliged to forward the amendment bill, after it has been finally approved in parliament, to His Majesty the King or else she will be held guilty of duty negligence. As head of the executive branch, the Prime Minister has no choice but to follow established legislative procedures within a given period of time. That is unambiguously written in the constitution," said Suranand.

Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana stressed that the country's three branches of powers should never interfere with each other. For instance, he said, amending the constitution purportedly to make it more democratic is primarily the business of the legislative branch which the judicial branch should not tamper with.

If the Constitutional Court, which is generally viewed as part of the judicial branch, ruled in favor of the government's amendment bill, nothing will happen to either the legislative or executive branch. On the contrary, if the Constitutional Court ruled in support of the anti-amendment legislators, including the Democrat MPs and a number of appointed senators, who themselves had petitioned for the court's judgment, the Yingluck government would almost certainly be faced with a grave political crisis.

The Democrats, who abstained from voting on the amendment bill alongside most appointed senators, had threatened that Yingluck might be eventually faced with allegations of breaching some clauses and articles of the constitution and even contribute to " undermining of the country's established rule".

Former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat earlier commented that Yingluck might dissolve the lower house only to call a snap election within a 60-days time if the amendment is ruled as " unconstitutional" by the Constitutional Court.

It would be "very unlikely" for the lady premier to step down in the face of such legislative fiasco and she would rather decide to return the power to the people by dissolving the lower house, according to Somchai, brother-in-law of former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin also had told the rank and file of the Pheu Thai Party via video link from overseas that his sister might dissolve the lower house if faced with such legislative impasse although that choice will certainly be considered an unfavorable one.

Though Yingluck herself has always been tight-lipped when asked by reporters to comment on the amendment issue, it has been understood by political observers that she would likely follow the suggestions of her brother who remains in self-exile overseas since 2006's coup.

Top government officials and pro-government legislators would prefer that the lower house would not be dissolved because of the major pending measures that need final approval, especially government's plan to borrow some 73 billion US dollars to finance the country's ambitious railway project that will feature, among other things, high-speed trains to link Bangkok with major provinces and neighboring states.
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