Move Forward Party draws clear red line in vote-rich Northeast
The opposition Move Forward Party will never form a coalition government with former junta leaders General Prayut Chan-o-cha and General Prawit Wongsuwan, party leader Pita Limjaroenrat assured voters in the Northeast on Saturday.
Pita was campaigning in the vote-rich region’s Khon Kaen province. The Northeast has 132 MP seats available for grabs out of 500 seats in the House of Representatives.
Move Forward will not join any coalition that includes “military political parties in disguise” after the next election, he said, adding: “We will never join them. Any future cabinet with a mixture of Prayut or Prawit will certainly not get me and the Move Forward Party in it.”
Move Forward will work with Pheu Thai, the core opposition party, after the election, he said.
“Both parties are in the opposition camp now. All current opposition parties have the necessary ingredients to make a perfect government to respond to all new challenges facing Thailand,” Pita said.
Move Forward is aiming to win more MP seats from constituencies across the country and more popular votes to increase its number of MPs from the party-list system, he added.
Move Forward’s former incarnation, the Future Forward Party, came third in the previous general election in March 2019, with a total of 80 MPs. Thirty of them were elected from constituencies while the remaining 50 were from the party-list system.
Future Forward Party was dissolved by court order in February 2020 for accepting illegal political donations. Its executives were punished with a 10-year ban from contesting an election or holding an executive post in a political party. Banned executives can, however, take part in political activities like election campaigning.
They include former party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul. After they were banned from holding official posts, they set up a political advocacy group called the Progressive Movement. Thanathorn is its leader and Piyabutr its secretary-general.
Piyabutr, who joined the party’s campaign in Khon Kaen on Saturday, said he believed that Move Forward had the “complete answers” for voters looking for a better future for Thailand.
Recent opinion polls show that opposition political parties will together win more than 300 of the 500 MP seats being contested in the upcoming election.
“If all existing opposition parties join hands [after the election], we will certainly be able to form the next government,” Piyabutr said.
Piyabutr and Pita recently ended a spat that included disagreements on social media. Thanathorn reportedly intervened as the conflict threatened to escalate.
On February 23, Pita said in a Facebook post that he and Piyabutr had settled their “misunderstanding” and would work together.
Piyabutr confirmed they had settled their differences. He also apologised to everyone involved with the party for putting them in a difficult position following recent criticism of the party and its leadership’s strategy for the election.
Earlier, Piyabutr had said that Move Forward needed to clearly present itself as a party for the reformist “new force” against the “old force” of conservatives. He also accused the party’s leaders of having no ability to woo potential supporters.
In response, Pita asked him to stop “being unhelpful and obstructing party work” and accused him of being “unprofessional”. Piyabutr responded by accusing Pita of “pushing himself up while pulling me down”. He also said that he was ready for the media interviews he had always shunned to “expose” Pita.