Standing firm in front of Democracy Monument, an emblematic red traffic light overlooks the district, while a replica of the nation’s constitution crowns the iconic structure. As captured on lens by the gifted photographer Pattarapong Chatpattarasill, this poignant scene encapsulates the cresting political climate on Ratchadamnoen Road.
On the horizon are pivotal governmental meetings sheduled this Friday, a rendezvous of power and policy that could carve the nation’s political future. The mission? To address and dissect the mounting uncertainties surrounding a referendum on a constitutional amendment – particularly, the contentious double-majority prerequisite revered by many as a potential game changer.
The government committee, headed by deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, is set to congregate to distil insights and suggestions from an ancillary committee led by Nikorn Chamnong. This panel has dedicated its mandate to understanding public sentiment vis-à-vis the referendum.
The specifics of the referendum are awaiting clarity; key decisions to be determined include the specific constitutional segments earmarked for amendment, the number of referendums required, and the funding necessary to ensure seamless execution of these public votes. Yet, the Deputy Premier has prudently refrained from conjecturing about the upcoming meeting’s conclusion.
That said, the upcoming year is pegged as the tentative timeline for finalizing the details and submitting them for cabinet scrutiny. In an optimistic tone, Phumtham Wechayachai hoped for a wrapped up plan by the advent of the next year. Meanwhile, numerous concerns hover around the impending amendment process and could potentially affect the vote.
The focal apprehension is around Section 13 of the Referendum Act, which stipulates binding conditions on the voting process. Not only is a turnout exceeding 50% of eligible citizens necessary, but also a majority ‘Yes’ vote is required. A tall order, Nikorn Chamnong fears the double-majority may be an arduous milestone to reach.
Chamnong broke down the voting mechanics further – under a straightforward majority rule, a turnout of 26 million eligible voters will be required for the binding force. In case of a double-majority, an affirmative commitment by 13 million voters towards the amendment will make the vote legally binding.
Chamnong plans to highlight these potential roadblocks and discuss them at the meeting. Beyond Chamnong’s circle, Pongsathorn Sornpetnarin, a Rayong MP with the opposition Move Forward Party, too, has resonated with the concerns surrounding Section 13 of the Referendum Act. According to him, implementing the requirement could be tedious, and a proactive campaign may render the referendum infructuous if It fails to draw at least 50% of voters.
The deputy chairman of the House committee on political development and public participation, Sornpetnarin proposes that a turnout of 25% may suffice to affirm the amendment. The upcoming meet thus holds potentially groundbreaking ramifications for the future of politics and public participation of the country.