By THE NATION
ELECTION WATCHERS are holding their breath today waiting for the official release of parties’ lists of their candidates for prime minister. Adding intrigue, the Thai Raksa Chart Party linked to former premier Thaksin Shinawatra has hinted that its list will cause a shock.
Yesterday, a day before the submission deadline, Chaturon Chaisang, a Thai Raksa Chart favourite for the top job if it does well in the polling, said he hadn’t yet even been invited to be on the list.
“I don’t know [who will be on the list] because I’m not on the party executive,” he replied when asked about his party’s nominees. Thai Raksa Chart, a sister party to Pheu Thai, was founded to avoid a “constitutional trap” designed by the regime to prevent any single party from dominating Parliament.
“I understood that I’d be one of the candidates, but now it’s almost the deadline [for submitting lists to the Election Commission] and no one has sent me an invitation,” said Chaturon, who left the Pheu Thai Party to run for Thai Raksa Chart.
Chaturon said the party executive made all the decisions and it hadn’t yet apprised the members.
The parties have until today to submit their nominations to the EC. They can submit no more than three names of candidates eligible to be prime minister.
Seasoned politician Chaturon’s comment appeared to support a rumour that his party’s candidate would be an established, high-ranking member of society and not another member of the Shinawatra family, as had been previously speculated.
Several party members were asked to either confirm or deny the rumour but declined, though some said the nominee’s name would come as a big surprise in political circles and could even change the political landscape.
The issue became a hot topic on social media on Wednesday, with many punters saying it would be risky bringing such a person into politics.
Fake statement circulates
A statement was circulated on social media saying the party expressed its gratitude to the “elite person” for accepting the invitation to be listed as a premier candidate. A party official said the statement was a fake and the party would take legal action against whoever concocted it.
The candidate list is now the most-anticipated element of the election apart from the voting itself on March 24, in which junta chief and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who took power after the 2014 coup, is poised to perpetuate his hold on power.
Prayut said yesterday he would decide this morning by 10am whether to accept the Phalang Pracharat Party’s invitation to head its list of PM candidates.
The pro-junta Phalang Pracharat invited Prayut, deputy premier Somkid Jatusripitak and its own party chief Uttama Savanayana to vie for the top |job.
Somkid said yesterday he had suggested Prayut’s name be the only one on the list “for the continuity of the work”.
Whether he’s on that list or not, the constitution gives Prayut another chance to head the government as an “outsider prime minister” in the event that the parties cannot agree on anyone from their combined candidate lists.