Will Thai voters support an 'outsider' PM?

Will Thai voters support an 'outsider' PM?

After the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) intentionally included an open clause for an "outsider" or non-elected person to become prime minister, suddenly thoughts of the public shifted to whether they were actually considering junta chief General Prayut Chan-o-cha retaining power in politics.

Late last year, charter drafters agreed that they would not limit the qualifications of a PM to compulsorily being an MP under the new constitution. They said the committee was aware that in the case of a political crisis, like the situation before the May 22 coup, the country might need a non-MP to be its leader.

The public interpreted this message to mean that legally a new PM could be anyone - a member of Parliament or an "outsider". However the drafters realised that the first thought likely to come to the people's minds was that they were trying to pave the way for General Prayut to continue as PM.

Prayut, it is unlikely, would contest an election - and that meant he wouldn't be eligible to be a PM under previous constitutions. Drafting the new charter without a stipulation that a PM must be a member of the House of Representatives certainly allows not only Prayut, but others who are not MPs, to also be eligible for the PM position.

CDC member Kamnoon Sidhisamarn had earlier rejected conjectures that the drafters were writing the charter to perpetuate the power of junta chief General Prayut after the next election.

Kamnoon and his fellow drafters had tried to avoid this topic after their ideas were resolved in the private CDC meeting - raising more suspicions than was the true intention of this proposal.

Furthermore, according to the CDC, it was true that the next PM could be a member of parliament - as under the previous system.

Nevertheless right now there are two hypotheses about the PM's position; whether the next head of government is an elected member or an outsider definitely has pros and cons.

On one hand, if a PM is an MP, the next premier will surely be supported by one of the two big parties. Clearly they would continue to be on conflicting sides and old disputes that have never been settled or reconciled would return, causing more damage and instability in the country.

However an elected PM has more advantages in claiming he or she actually represents the people, being an MP chosen by the electorate.

On the other hand, many observers believe that by choosing a non-elected PM there's a higher chance to promote reconciliation. Some still believe an "outsider" PM does not meet the criterion of being a people's representative, and hence would not be accepted by the public.

Nevertheless, despite everything, whoever assumes the office of next PM in this country will face public dissatisfaction, one way or another.

Moreover, the most important matter probably lies with how much that person can handle the country's problems and represents the majority of the people without leading to more coups.

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