The sources said party leaders had already met with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on options to defuse the growing crisis after anti-government protesters moved to seize control of several government agencies.
"The government will try its best to handle the situation. But if all else fails, we may have to dissolve parliament," a senior party official said. While a dissolution would probably suspend the current protests, it is unlikely to resolve the philosophical conflicts between the two sides, particularly as most observers agree that Pheu Thai would almost certainly return to power following national elections.
Apiwan Wiriyachai, a Pheu Thai Party list-MP, said talks between the two sides are the best way to ease the crisis, but that there is no party acceptable to both camps that could serve as a mediator. Col Apiwan said House dissolution without talks would be futile, as the conflict would resume once Pheu Thai wins the election. He agreed to a proposal by some academics for a referendum on moves to amend the constitution before dissolving parliament.
"The public should decide whether they want to return to the 1997 constitution or if they want to retain the current 2007 charter," Col Apiwan said. Chief government whip Amnuay Khlangpha said a referendum could be held on the government's move to amend Section 291 of the constitution, currently awaiting the third and final reading before parliament. The government wants to amend the section to allow the creation of a charter drafting assembly to write a new constitution.
The Constitution Court recently ruled that the government's move to amend Section 291 was illegal, as the current constitution had been endorsed by referendum. But the court did allow that the constitution could be abolished and a new one drafted if approved by a public referendum. Mr Amnuay said if the public agreed to amend Section 291, a charter drafting assembly should be set up within a month with a new charter drafted within six months. After that, a general election would be called under the new rules following negotiations with all parties.
He suggested that under the new charter, all existing MPs and senators could be banned from participating in a new election to help bring a new generation of leaders to parliament. Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana said the demand by protesters to establish a "people's council" was clearly unconstitutional. The current charter has no mechanism which would allow for the demands by protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to create a people's council, people's government or a people's court of justice, Mr Pongthep said yesterday.
A Nida poll released yesterday on the six-point plan pushed by Mr Suthep showed that 79.09% of respondents agreed with the call for new elections free of vote-buying. More than two-thirds of those polled agreed with the protesters' call for a new "war on corruption", with no statute of limitations on graft cases.