The Nation


Nation Analysis

Range of options exist within charter to end political impasse

Protesters remove barbed wire and concrete barriers around Chamai Maruchet Bridge.

Protesters remove barbed wire and concrete barriers around Chamai Maruchet Bridge.

Preliminary framework could set the stage for new election

After shunting aside suggestions by protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to transfer her power to a "people's assembly", Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she was leaving all doors open for discussion to seek a political breakthrough that would not stray from the constitutional framework.

Many options have been proposed by academics and other parties for her consideration.

The most probable choice is for the government to propose political reforms and then dissolve the House of Representatives and call an election.

The Cabinet has assigned Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana and Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri to design a platform to collect ideas on reform within the parameters of the current Constitution.

This process, including amending the Constitution, would take three to six months. Yingluck has urged all parties to join the forum.

There are two variations on how to prepare for the dissolution of Parliament.

Pichai Rattanadilok Na Phuket of the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida) has suggested that His Majesty the King invoke Article 7 of the Constitution to select an interim government to replace Yingluck's Cabinet to reform the country.

Surapon Nitikraipot, a former rector of Thammasat University, has offered a similar road map to Pichai's but suggested that the Senate Speaker nominate a person to be the prime minister for His Majesty's endorsement. The new prime minister would call an election as well as a referendum to establish the people's assembly.

Another option proposed by Nida's Sombat Thamrong-thanyawong is to enforce Article 3 of the Constitution to set up a "national government" as a caretaker to lay out new political rules for the country and call for a new election.

Article 3 states that sovereignty belongs to the Thai people and the King as head of state exercises power through Parliament, the government and the courts. Article 7 says that whenever no provision under this charter is applicable to any case, it shall be decided in accordance with the constitutional practice in the democratic regime of government with the King as head of state.

However, in fact there is no "constitutional practice" for His Majesty to pick anybody to sit in as the prime minister.

The last option is simply dissolving Parliament and calling a new election. This option is unlikely as Suthep and his supporters disagree with it. The Shinawatra clan would easily return to power if the election were held under the current circumstances.

Then Suthep and his supporters would have fought for naught.

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