The idea of using the Constitution’s Article 7 to set up an unelected government to help pull the country out of the current political crisis is impossible both legally and practically.
The anti-government protesters and some senators have been working hard to twist the Constitution so they can topple the government. In fact, some senators are even trying to get their newly appointed Speaker to call on His Majesty to appoint a new premier.
They believe they can apply Article 7 to give their action legitimacy, even though this move would be equivalent to a coup. Also, they seem to forget that His Majesty had ruled on April 25, 2006 that the application of the law in this way would be undemocratic. So far, the King’s word has never been reversed in this country.
Article 7 says: “when 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.”
This does not, in any way, offer a process to find a new head of government.
Meanwhile, Article 171 gives the Speaker of the House of Representatives the authority to propose a member of the House to His Majesty to appoint this person as premier.
Yet, pro-protest law experts argue that Article 7 can be applied “mutatis mutandis” as the country does not have a House of Representatives in place. Also, they say, Thailand has had unelected persons installed in the premier’s seat after the people’s uprising in 1973 and 1992.
This argument, however, is invalid because the 2007 Constitution ― which many of these legal experts helped draft ― does not allow an unelected person to become prime minister.
In practice, how can a Senate Speaker just make someone prime minister without the people’s consent? Most Thais will refuse to accept a so-called “neutral person” as their prime minister and will probably take turns in launching street battles to make their opposition known.
In other words, using Article 7 will not help pull the country out of a crisis, but will, in fact, bring about more conflicts.
Then, if the people take a strong stance against the unelected government and an uprising takes place, then the powers that be will have no choice but to call on the military to suppress them.
Now, however, not many Thais are willing to come out on the streets to die unarmed, so it is quite possible that many will take up weapons to wage a civil war.
Political struggles over the past years show that Thais are no longer ready to make a compromise. Politics is also no longer a matter for a few members of the elite to cut a deal as the majority want to have a hand in installing their government.
Though the current Constitution is disliked by many as it was sponsored by the military, it has been in force for nearly a decade now and offers people a way to install a government peacefully ― through an election.
This time, perhaps, the best solution would be for the handful of elite and anti-government groups to accept a lawful and democratic way out in accordance with the Constitution and push their so-called reform agendas through an election process.
It is time that Thais were given a chance to decide on the fate of their country. Every Thai ― no matter which strata of society they hail from ― have an equal right to decide on the future of their nation.
By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
Supalak Ganjanakhundee is the foreign news editor at The Nation. ― Ed.
(Asia News Network)