By THE NATION
The Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties, which have about 50 MPs each, now hold the key to deciding which camp will run the country after both major blocs failed to muster enough seats on their own to form a government.
The Democrats will reportedly make their decision after the party chooses its new leader on Wednesday. Bhumjaithai, meanwhile, has kept mum, saying it was listening to the voice of the people. There have been news reports that neither part was satisfied with the Cabinet seats offered them by the pro-junta camp.
The anti-junta camp led by Pheu Thai and Future Forward has 245 MPs, short of a simple majority in the 500-member House of Representatives, while their rivals have about 120, mainly from three parties – Phalang Pracharat, Action Coalition for Thailand and People’s Reform.
While the anti-junta camp has been pressing the medium-sized parties to make a decision and “show respect” for the people’s voice, it also appeared ready to give up important seats in the government despite the large number of votes they gained.
Pheu Thai de facto leader Sudarat Keyuraphan said yesterday that the medium-sized parties joining the anti-junta bloc did not necessarily mean they had to support Pheu Thai’s bid to secure power.
“We don’t mean to have them back us as a government or our choice for prime minister,” she said. “We’re only looking for ways to stop the junta from retaining power. If political parties join forces, the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO] will have to go home. They [the parties] don’t have to support Pheu Thai’s bid for power at all.”
Sudarat, however, denied offering the government’s top job to Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul.
“We haven’t talked yet,” she said. “Now, let’s focus on their stance – whether they want this election to be a rebirth of democracy for the people or justify the NCPO’s status.”
The Future Forward Party, which gained more than 80 seats in the Lower House in its election debut, also said it prioritises elimination of the junta and was ready to vote for any good candidate as PM. Its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, however, dismissed news reports that his party would even support Democrat ex-leader Abhisit Vejjajiva as PM in order to put an end to the current regime.
Thanathorn reiterated that Future Forward was ready to vote for anyone who could muster sufficient MPs to stop the junta. This did not mean they would back the Democrats unconditionally, he stressed.