Respect Thai public's mandate when electing new PM, Pheu Thai leader tells Senate
Pheu Thai Party leader Cholnan Srikaew reminded the Senate that it should vote in line with the majority decision of voters when electing the next prime minister.
Cholnan was responding to reports that several senators have vowed not to vote for Move Forward’s PM candidate Pita Limjaroenrat. He made the comment in a Nation TV interview on Tuesday.
The 2017 Constitution, which was seen as designed to help Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha win the top executive post after the 2019 election, empowers the 250 senators to join 500 MPs in electing the PM.
This will be the second and last time that the senators, who were appointed by the junta or the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order, will co-elect the PM.
Pita announced on Monday that he would form a coalition with five former opposition parties and other smaller parties. So far, the Move Forward-led coalition, set to include Pheu Thai, Thai Sang Thai, Seri Ruamthai and Prachachart, will have a combined 310 seats. However, this will be short of the 376 seats needed to neutralise votes from the Senate.
One of the senators who declared they would not vote for Pita is Senator Jadet Inswang. He said he will not vote for Pita because he plans to scrap the lese majeste law.
However, Cholnan said on Tuesday that Jadet’s comment cannot be seen as the entire Senate’s stand.
“The senators may simply be expressing their own personal views,” Cholnan said, adding that it’s too early to tell what stand the upper House chamber will take.
“But one thing we can confirm for now is that under the democratic system with the King as head of state, we must believe in the people’s mandate,” he said.
“The people own ruling power and like Move Forward has said – all sides should respect the people’s mandate.”
Cholnan added that though the 250 senators had been handpicked by the junta, they are still required by the charter to be people’s representatives.
“And as people’s representatives, the senators should respect people’s mandate expressed through the election results,” Cholnan said.
The Pheu Thai leader also warned that if the majority decision of the people is not respected, there may be turmoil and violence, which will hurt the country.
He said Pheu Thai respects people’s decision, which is why it has decided not to compete against the Move Forward-led coalition.
He also dismissed speculation that Pheu Thai will form an alliance with smaller parties like General Prawit Wongsuwon’s Palang Pracharath and General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s United Thai Nation Party to compete for ruling power.
Cholnan said that instead of competing against Move Forward, Pheu Thai has assigned its secretary-general Prasert Chanruangthong to work with his Move Forward counterpart Chaithawat Tulathon on formal coalition talks.
Separately, Assoc Prof Dr Prinya Thaewannarumitkul, a law lecturer at Thammasat University, said over 1.17 million Thais have signed an online petition demanding that senators respect people’s mandate by making the leader of the party with the highest number of seats the next premier.
Prinya said in a Facebook post that over 1 million people had signed the petition on the first day.
The petition, which was launched at noon on Monday, will be collecting signatures until Thursday. The online vote has been launched by 10 universities and 10 media organisations.