Pita will never get enough support from the Senate to be PM, senator says
A senator who has been publicly disparaging of the Move Forward Party is now saying that party leader Pita Limjaroenrat will never get enough support from the Senate to become Thailand’s next prime minister.
Senator Kittisak Ratanawaha, deputy chairman of the Senate committee on political development and public inclusion, made the comment after accompanying Seree Suwanpanont, chairman of the same Senate panel, to the Election Commission (EC) to demand that the commission seek a ruling from the .Constitutional Court about whether Pita should be disqualified from the May 14 election for allegedly holding shares in ITV Plc.
Kittisak expressed confidence that fewer than five senators would vote in support of Pita as Thailand’s 30th prime minister when the House and Senate elect the next prime minister at a joint session expected in the middle of next month.
“I believe most senators will decide to switch off by abstaining,” Kittisak said, mocking the term “switching off” which Move Forward frequently adopted in its election campaign.
During the election campaigns, Move Forward called for overwhelming public support so that it would not have to depend on votes from 250 senators so that its candidate for prime minister, Pita, can be elected to the post by MPs.
The party urged voters to help it “switch off” the Senate.
The Move Forward-led eight-party coalition now commands 312 MPs so it would need up to 64 votes from senators and MPs from other parties to meet the required 376 votes for Pita to be elected prime minister.
Three weeks ago, some Move Forward core members said the party about 40 senators would vote for Pita. The Move Forward leader said recently that he had enough support to be elected PM.
“Senators have their individual right to vote anyway they want,” Kittisak said.
Asked whether he was confident that Pita would definitely fail to win the PM election, Kittisak replied that he expected more than one PM candidate would be nominated for the top executive post.
“By the law, a party with more than 25 MPs can nominate a PM candidate,” Kittisak said.
He added that after Pita fails his bid for the PM’s post, senators would support the PM candidate from the second-largest party.
Pheu Thai is the second largest party with 141 MPs, ten fewer than Move Forward.
Asked whether he saw the Pheu Thai would have a chance to become the coalition leader if the Move Forward fails its bid, Kittisak replied: “If not, you’ll say senators reject everything. We see that the nation must move on. I’ll repeat it that the country must be able to move on. If Pita fails to win, the second-largest party must advance and we want the country to move forward.”
Asked whether he was confident that Pheu Thai would become the next coalition leader, Kittisak replied: “I can’t put it clearly for now because senators will not interfere in the coalition formation. But I can say that more than one party will seek the PM post.”
When asked whether senators feared protests by Move Forward’s supporters if Pita fails to win the post of prime minister, Kittisak said under the current situation, political violence could happen no matter which party wins the post.
Asked how senators would explain to voters the rationale for the largest party failing to be a leader of the governing coalition, Kittisak said it would not be the first time that the second-largest party led the government.
He said after the 2019 election, the Palang Pracharath Party, which was the second largest, became the leader of the governing coalition while the largest party, Pheu Thai, was relegated to the opposition.
He said senators would not vote for a minority government and would vote only for the party that managed to muster a majority in the House.
As a result, he said Palang Pracharath leader General Prawit Wongsuwan would not receive senators’ votes if his party failed to win majority support in the House first.