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Prayut skating on thin ice after expulsion of 21 MPs, says Thammasat lecturer


A political scientist of Thammasat University sees the expulsion of a group of 21 Palang Pracharat Party MPs as a sign of rift that could land Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha in hot waters.

Dr. Charupol Ruangsuwan from the Faculty of Political Science Thammasat University said Prayut would eventually have to dissolve the House before a censure showdown in the House.

Charupol was commenting on the decision of the Palang Pracharath’s executive board on Wednesday to expel the party’s former secretary-general Thamanat Prompow and 20 other MPs from the party.

Although a party source said the move was just a tactic to allow the 21 MPs to stay in the new New Economics Party while they would still be a part of the coalition, some observers see it as a sign of severe rifts between Prayut and Thamanat.

Prayut had earlier removed Thamanat from his Cabinet, suspecting the Phayao MP of trying to engineer his ouster in a no-confidence debate.

Charupol said if the rifts, as perceived by political observers, were true the new party of Thamanat would not support Prayut in Parliament and would pressure the prime minister to consider dissolving the House.

Prayut said on Thursday that he had no intention of dissolving the House as the government had yet to enact key legislation.

Charupol said that without support from the 21 MPs, the government would have to try its best to buy time and stay in office for as long as possible.

The lecturer said although the government would definitely want to complete its term, the expulsion of the 21 Palang Pracharat MPs could be a crucial factor for the government to plan its game accordingly.

“If the government can last until the next censure debate, which may be held around the middle of the year, the coalition will be in a very risky situation by then,” Charupol said.

He explained that the situation could be very volatile as both sides in the House would lobby hard for MPs to sway support.

“Anything can happen in politics,” Charupol said.

By that time, Prayut may have to think about whether to dissolve the House before a censure motion is submitted against him or he will have to risk losing the censure vote, the lecturer added.

“The prime minister cannot afford to lose a censure vote. If he sees the likelihood of losing a no-confidence vote, House dissolution will be a better choice,” Charupol said.

“In this scenario, the prime minister may dissolve the House around the middle of the year and call a general election within this year.”

But if the expulsion of the group of MPs is just a tactic for MPs to move to another party, the government would stay until the end of its term or whenever the coalition sees it is ready to contest the next election, Charupol said.

But the lecturer pointed to a report that Watcharawat Wongsuwan, a brother of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, would be an adviser of the Thai Economy Party.

Charupol said if it were true, Watcharawat’s presence in the new party could be a sign of rifts between Prayut and Prawit, two of three key generals in the previous coup.


“If that happens as reported, we may witness a conflict between the two generals, Charupol concluded.

Published : January 20, 2022