Ball is in your court, Pheu Thai to tell Move Forward at next meeting of coalition

FRIDAY, JULY 28, 2023

A senior Pheu Thai figure on Friday asked Move Forward – the largest partner in the eight-party coalition attempting to form the next government – to be decisive about what to do next as it has become clear that the current coalition is unlikely to gain more votes from senators and MPs outside of the group.

Deputy Pheu Thai leader Phumtham Wechayachai said that at its next meeting with other coalition partners, his party would report on its failure to persuade political parties outside the coalition and members of the Senate to vote for their prime ministerial candidate at the next joint meeting of both Houses scheduled for August 4.

He said those parliamentarians had voiced their concerns over Move Forward’s plan to amend Article 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law.

Conservative political parties and senators have warned that Move Forward’s proposed amendments to the lese majeste law would undermine the Thai monarchy and national security.

Observers see the possibility of Pheu Thai ending the deadlock by dropping Move Forward from its coalition and taking on board conservative parties from the outgoing government.

Pheu Thai leaders last weekend met with the parties in the outgoing coalition government, including Bhumjaithai, Palang Pracharath, Chart Thai Pattana, and United Thai Nation, to ask for their input on how a new government could be formed.

Some senior Pheu Thai figures also met with senators to discuss the matter.

Phumtham said on Friday that the party leaders and senators whom Pheu Thai had met had all made it clear that they would not vote for the eight-party coalition as long as its future government would include Move Forward.

“We would report to the eight-party coalition what we heard and see what the coalition partners, particularly Move Forward, would tell us to do next. We want Move Forward to make a decision about this matter,” Phumtham said.

He said that the meeting of the eight-party alliance would take place in early August, ahead of the next parliamentary meeting scheduled for August 4 by Parliament President Wan Muhamad Noor Matha.

A Pheu Thai PM candidate was expected to be nominated for parliamentary voting at the next joint meeting of both Houses. The meeting was originally scheduled for Thursday (July 27) but was cancelled after the Ombudsman’s Office petitioned the Constitutional Court for a verdict on the parliamentary decision to block Pita’s renomination on the grounds that it was a violation of parliamentary rules on resubmission of the same motion in the same session. The court is scheduled to decide on August 3 whether to accept the petition.

Pheu Thai took over the lead to form the next government after Move Forward stepped aside following the failure of its leader and sole PM candidate, Pita Limjaroenrat, to secure majority support from Parliament.

A transitory clause of the Constitution empowers senators to join MPs in the vote to elect the prime minister during the five-year period after the charter’s first Parliament is convened. This constitutional power expires in May next year.

Ball is in your court, Pheu Thai to tell Move Forward at next meeting of coalition

In a separate development, a university lecturer asked the former leader of the disbanded Future Forward Party, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, to “give a clear answer” about media reports that he had recently met with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is regarded as Pheu Thai’s patriarch.

It was reported that Thanathorn and certain Move Forward politicians met Thaksin in Hong Kong to discuss a “super deal” about forming the next government. When asked by the media to comment on the rumour, Thanathorn simply smiled and walked away.

Assoc Prof Somchai Preechasinlapakun of Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Law made his request in his Facebook post on Friday.

“As one of the voters, I have a question whether Thanathorn took part in the ‘super deal’ talk. He has to give a clear answer. Staying silent or avoiding this question will shake the confidence in the party [Move Forward],” Somchai wrote.

Thanathorn holds no executive post in Move Forward, but he is believed to retain his influence in the progressive party. Move Forward was created after the Constitutional Court ordered the dissolution of Future Forward.

Somchai said in his Facebook post that he expected Move Forward to be straightforward in its actions and not get involved in any backroom negotiations, which he said was typical of old politics.

According to rumours, Move Forward offered to drop its plan to amend Article 112 in exchange for its participation in a Pheu Thai-led government.