Move Forward-led coalition partners set to discuss sharing Cabinet posts
The eight-party coalition aiming to form the next Thai government is scheduled to meet next Tuesday to discuss the allocation of ministerial positions among the partners, Move Forward Party secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon said on Saturday.
The meeting, scheduled for 2.30pm on Tuesday, will include a discussion on who should be the next speaker of the House of Representatives among other issues, according to a source familiar with the matter. Move Forward, which won the largest number of MP seats in the May 14 general election – 151 of 500 – has been involved in a spat with the coalition’s second-largest partner, Pheu Thai, over the much coveted House speaker’s seat. Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat on Friday suggested that both parties should try to settle the dispute through negotiations rather than feuding in public. His remarks came after the dispute escalated into a heated debate on social media between supporters of both parties. Pheu Thai won 141 MP seats in the election, according to unofficial results. Chaithawat, in his capacity as the Move Forward coordinator in the coalition’s effort to form the next government, said on Saturday that after the eight allies signed their memorandum of understanding (MoU) last week, they would now focus on preparing to form their coalition government and allocating responsibilities among the partners. “This is in preparation for the official formation of the new government. Cabinet posts will be discussed later,” he said.
Chaithawat also said that Move Forward has approached some “outsiders”, referring to non-MPs, to serve as members of the next Cabinet.
He added that his party has not had detailed discussions with the other coalition partners about which candidates will get the top posts in their planned future government.
Some political analysts have said potential risks could derail the coalition before it forms a government.
One risk is the disagreement between Move Forward and Pheu Thai about who should get the House speaker’s seat.
Move Forward’s campaign pledge to amend the lese majeste law has now become an obstacle to its bid to lead the next coalition government, some analysts say.
Many senators say they will not vote for Pita due to this pledge, which they describe as a risk to Thai security.
The coalition made no mention of the highly controversial issue in its MoU.
Move Forward said it would push for amendments to the lese majeste law through Parliament on its own.
Another potential threat to the Move Forward-led coalition is a complaint filed with the Election Commission against Pita, who is the coalition’s sole candidate for prime minister.
Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, from the outgoing Palang Pracharath Party, earlier asked the commission to investigate Pita’s shareholding in media company iTV. He alleged that this could violate a constitutional clause prohibiting any election candidate from “being the owner of, or a shareholder in any newspaper or mass media business”.
High expectations from Move Forward’s most strident supporters may also become a threat, analysts said.
These very vocal supporters are pressuring the party to give no ground on its promise to amend Article 112 of the Penal Code, which makes lese majeste a crime. They also want an amnesty law for people facing criminal charges related to the 2014 military coup.