PADocrats raise Article 7 (again)

6 06 2012

As the House Speaker Somsak Kiartsuranond announced the Puea Thai Party’s capitulation – at least for the moment – by deciding “to withdraw voting on the constitutional-amendment bill and debate on the controversial reconciliation bills from parliamentary session agendas,” the Democrat Party and other ultra-royalists are pushing ahead with the plan to get rid of the government.

Somsak claimed he had “legal advice that going ahead with a vote on the charter-change bills after last week’s order by the Constitution Court for it to be suspended could cause the opposition Democrat Party to seek disbandment of the ruling Pheu Thai Party…”. Somsak blathers that “for the sake of reconciliation, I will step back.”

This is a weak excuse because a decision by the Constitutional Court against the government will also initiate dissolution. Article 68 states: “In the case where the Constitutional Court makes a decision compelling the political party to cease to commit the act under paragraph two, the Constitutional Court may order the dissolution of such political party.” At the same time, it is clear that “reconciliation” is lost for Puea Thai.

On the ultra-royalist and Democrat Party push, readers should find a story at The Nation of considerable interest.

Wiratana Kalayasiri, “leader of the Democrat Party’s legal team” – actually, a legal team is unnecessary for nothing currently in the works is legal – “said that if the government continued trying to push through the charter-amendment bill, the Democrat Party would file a complaint with the Constitution Court under Articles 154 and 7.”

Article 154 of the constitution (not the penal code as The Nation states) was in our post yesterday, and is one of the legal paths that the Democrat Party might have taken if it was interested in the rule of law and the constitution.

They aren’t, so they also raise Article 7. It states: “Whenever no provision under this Constitution is applicable to any case, it shall be decided in accordance with the constitutional convention in the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.”

Readers may recall that Article 7 (of the then 1997 constitution) was also used by anti-Thaksin Shinawatra protesters in 2005 and 2006. PAD pushed the use of this article very strongly. As Michael Connors explained it [a PDF], the call for royal intervention was persistent and became a plea for the king to sack Thaksin, supported by PAD and the Democrat Party. He also notes that the Democrat Party was prepared to use Article 7 in other circumstances in 2006 (p. 158).

Article 7 was introduced to the 1997 constitution by conservative royalists just before it was promulgated, and after public hearing were completed (p. 150). Connors argues that “the effect of Article 7 was to limit the reach of all of these new [democratic] claims by empowering a traditionalistic and royalist interpretation should one be so required” (pp. 150-1).

That the Democrat Party wants to use Article 7 again in its battle to oust the elected Puea Thai government suggests that the party thinks the palace is supportive of its actions.

For the combined PADocrats, running to the king is a lazy and infantile recourse when they can’t get what they want through normal processes. It follows naturally from parliamentary tantrums. It seems to PPT that the Democrat Party is likely to be little more than a front in this struggle, as PAD was in 2005-6.

Perhaps the elite decision-makers reckon that using the parliamentary opposition and the judiciary to oust an elected government will somehow be more palatable for domestic and international audiences.


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12 11 2013
Running to the king | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] tactic of running to the king is highly reminiscent of the call to use Article 7 in 2005, asking the king to dump the elected government. The call for a “national government” […]

12 11 2013
Running to the king | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] tactic of running to the king is highly reminiscent of the call to use Article 7 in 2005, asking the king to dump the elected government. The call for a “national government” or a […]