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Tough times ahead for next Thai government after hard fought weekend votes

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Tough times ahead for next Thai government after hard fought weekend votes | The Thaiger
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It took most of two days for the new parliament to elect a House Speaker and two deputies. All votes, after much prevarication, won by slender margins. The Palang Pracharat Party is emerging as the party with the numbers but there are tough times ahead for any government as the votes have not been falling uniformly and the ‘swing’ parties – Democrats and BumjaiThai – are yet to throw their weight formally behind any of the main blocs.

The vote for speaker showed that Phalang Pracharat had won over the key undecided parties – Democrat and Bhumjaithai – for these votes anyway, and was poised to lead the coalition.

The next administration, which would need maximum votes in the lower house to progress policy, will face hurdles at every step. There is no guarantee that the swing parties will support Palang Pracharat on every issue, in fact, it’s unlikely.

Though the lower house speaker and deputy speaker positions went to Phalang Pracharat-backed figures, giving it the upper hand in Parliament, the wins were narrow and indicated possible future swings.

Democrat Chuan Leekpai triumphed over Pheu Thai candidate Sompong Amornvivat by 23 votes (258-235). The figure suggests some defections in the anti-junta bloc.

But in the vote for the position of first deputy speaker, veteran politician Suchart Tancharoen defeated first-time MP Yaowalak Wongpraparat from the fledgling Future Forward Party by just two votes (248-246). That’s a significant result for a new party and their first foray into Thai parliamentary politics.

A Future Forward MP has also won the bi-election held over the weekend in Chiang Mai, giving them one more PM vote in the lower house.

The second deputy speaker’s post went to Supachai Phosu, who secured 256 votes against 239 for Seri Ruamthai candidate Prasong Buranapong. In such a tight situation, smaller parties that would back the Phalang Pracharat-led coalition are seen to have a significant leverage over the pro-junta party.

The Democrats and Bhumjaithai, who together have 103 MPs, look likely to gain a fair share of Cabinet portfolios.

The hiccups in the vote for speaker on Saturday could portend Phalang Pracharat’s fate in the lower house.

Suchart reportedly was to run for speaker, but Phalang Pracharat had to nominate Chuan at the last minute, leading to some discontent among pro-junta MPs.

Apparently, in a struggle to overcome internal disagreement, the pro-junta bloc motioned for postponement of the speaker’s election but failed when some pro-Suchart MPs voted against the move.

Aside from such internal challenges, it was also observed that the pro-junta camp would face strong opposition from Pheu Thai and Future Forward.

The elections of all speakers was expected to be completed in a single day, but the process dragged out to two full days, partly because the rival blocs locked horns and neither was prepared to give way.

The ‘caretaker’ speaker Chai Chidchob had to adjourn the meeting a couple of times when they refused to back down. Starting from when Phalang Pracharat attempted to postpone the election of the house speaker on Saturday, the two blocs debated for nearly two hours before Chai called a break.

Phalang Pracharat finally gave in and agreed that the chamber could vote to decide whether or not to defer the election.

The election on Saturday took more than eight hours and two other motions to elect the first and second deputy speakers were put off to yesterday.

Yesterday morning, Future Forward motioned for the candidates to give a “vision speech” before the vote, seeking to establish the credentials of its candidate, Yaowalak. But Chai, a highly experienced house speaker aligned with Phalang Pracharat, abruptly dismissed the proposal after the heated |atmosphere showed signs of worsening.

More wrangling followed, especially during the vote to choose the second deputy speaker. Pheu Thai MPs led by Cholnan Srikaew protested over ballots that bore an erroneous surname for the candidate. They also asked Chai to stop the referee from recording the vote count on video.

The MPs said the manner of the recording was suspicious and questioned whether the ballots had been marked to indicate the identities of the voters in order to secure “rewards” later on.

Chai disagreed with both motions despite heated debate and ordered the process to continue.

The elections yesterday also took more than eight hours.

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Election

Education minister’s wife plans to run for governor of Bangkok

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Education minister’s wife plans to run for governor of Bangkok | The Thaiger

The education minister of Thailand’s wife is planning to run for the governor of Bangkok when the city poll is called, in a move that puts her in direct competition with others for the backing of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party.

Nataphol Teepsuwan confirmed on Friday that his wife Taya Teepsuwan, a former core member of the now-defunct Peoples’ Democratic Reform Committee, would contest the unscheduled gubernatorial election.

Natapol met briefly with PM Prayut, with some speculating that the Government House meeting was centred around his wife’s future political career. But Natapol denied that was the focus of the meeting.

Her decision to run could be problematic as Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang or former police chief Chakthip Chaijinda are expected to run under the Palang Pracharath banner. Both of those candidates were close to the party back when PM Prayut was the junta leader.

Chakthip has given signs of his intentions to run as he set up a Facebook page this month, while Aswin has not officially made up his mind whether to run or stand aside for the former national police chief.

But Natapol says his wife, who is a former deputy Bangkok governor, plans to a run as an independent if she is passed over by Palang Pracharath. The education minister said he had informed party leader Prawit Wongsuwon of his wife’s intention.

Taya is the youngest child and only daughter of the late business tycoon Chalermbhand and Khunying Sasima Srivikorn. Along with her husband, she co-founded the Rugby International School in Chonburi.

Taya was also the managing director of Srivikorn School and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration at Chulalongkorn University. She also has a Master’s in Analysis, Design and Management of Information Systems from The London School of Economics & Political Science.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Election

Voting starts in Thailand’s provinces, excluding Bangkok, alcohol ban in place until 6pm

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Voting starts in Thailand’s provinces, excluding Bangkok, alcohol ban in place until 6pm | The Thaiger

Thailand goes to the polls today for the first time in 6 years for provincial elections. The last time was in 2014, just before the latest military coup seized power from the Yingluck Shinawatra government in May 2014. An election for Thailand’s central government was held in March 2019.

The elections taking place today are for the provincial administrative organisation chiefs as well as council members for the provincial administrative organisations. Pattaya and Bangkok, both considered special administrative zones, will have similar local elections sometime next year according to the Thai Election Commission (other parts of Chon Buri still have to vote today).

An alcohol sales and distribution ban is still in place in all other provinces in Thailand. It started at 6pm last night and will last until 6pm this evening, after the polls close.

Voting Thais have been told they must wear a face mask when they go to place their vote today.

A provincial administrative chief is the elected official for province management who works in conjunction with the Provincial Governor, a government appointment.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Election

US federal judge shoots down President Trump’s attempt to block Pennsylvania vote certification

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US federal judge shoots down President Trump’s attempt to block Pennsylvania vote certification | The Thaiger

A US federal judge has shot down US President Trump’s campaign team’s attempt to block the certification of votes in the state of Pennsylvania. The judge issued the order that also refuted claims of widespread irregularities for mail-in ballots. The news comes after President Trump has refused to concede the election despite other leaders worldwide already recognising Joe Biden, a democrat, as the president-elect.

Pennsylvania may have been Mr. Trump’s final hope for arguing against the election results, as the state holds 20 electoral votes. In an attempt to bring the issue into court, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, made an appearance in the court, for the first time in decades, to argue the case.

But the US District Court Judge Matthew Brann wasn’t having it. In his order, he detailed Trump’s request for the court to disenfranchise almost 7 million votes. Judge Brann ruled that Pennsylvania officials indeed could certify the election results by showing that Mr. Biden had won the state by 80,000 votes. He further noted that the Trump campaign team presented strained legal arguments “without merit and speculative accusations … unsupported by evidence”.

“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, so much that the court would have no option but to stop the certification even though it would impact so many people. That has not happened.”

Despite Pennsylvania’s strong number of votes in the electoral college, Donald Trump still would have needed to win the other lawsuits that he had filed, where his campaign team also asked to delay certification of votes. Following suit, however, most of the courts rejected the lawsuits, citing the need for proof that fraud could have occurred.

Giuliani and a Trump campaign lawyer are holding fort by noting that they welcomed the dismissal as they could appeal to the US Supreme Court faster, where Trump has continuously claimed that he has sympathetic justices. Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican who helped place Judge Brann on the bench, said the ruling showed Trump had exhausted all possible legal avenues in the state and went on to congratulate Biden on his victory.

“Brann is a longtime conservative Republican whom I know to be a fair and unbiased jurist.”

Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor and New York mayor, didn’t appear to be much of a help in the court after he seemingly confused the meaning of “opacity”, provoked an opposing lawyer, and seemed unaware of the Pennsylvania election code when he said it was illegal for counties to help people vote. Trump’s attorneys also teamed up by saying that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law was violated when Pennsylvania counties took different approaches to notifying voters before the election about technical problems with their submitted mail-in ballots.

The judge dismissed the argument entirely, and Mark Aronchick, an opposing lawyer, addressed Giuliani directly about the Pennsylvania election code

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, tweeted shortly after Brann’s ruling that “another one bites the dust.”

“These claims were meritless from the start and for an audience of one,” Shapiro said in a statement. “The will of the people will prevail. These baseless lawsuits need to end.”

SOURCE: Associate Press

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