Pheu Thai says time not right for coalition with Prayut’s and Prawit’s parties
The time is not right for Pheu Thai to form a new coalition government with two political parties linked to leaders of the post-coup junta, party deputy leader Phumtham Wechayachai said on Friday.
He was reacting to questions from the media about the possibility of Pheu Thai including Palang Pracharath and United Thai Nation in the new alliance it is forming after pulling out of the earlier coalition with Move Forward Party.
Senior Pheu Thai figures on Wednesday announced the party’s “divorce” from Move Forward to stitch together a new coalition.
Pheu Thai, the second-largest party in the lower House, with 141 MP seats, needs to gather at least 376 votes from MPs and senators to ensure that its prime ministerial candidate secures majority support in the next parliamentary vote to elect Thailand’s new prime minister.
Pheu Thai is facing a dilemma in its efforts to form a new coalition government that excludes Move Forward.
The party is reportedly trying to avoid including Palang Pracharath and United Thai Nation – which are associated with outgoing Deputy Premier General Prawit Wongsuwan and outgoing Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, respectively – as the two generals are linked to the 2014 military coup and the subsequent junta. But Pheu Thai also needs majority support from both Houses of Parliament, and votes from senators are necessary for its candidate to be elected prime minister.
Both Prayut and Prawit are believed to retain their influence over many of the 250 senators they appointed while serving in the post-coup junta.
Prayut recently announced his retirement from politics, but Prawit is still the Palang Pracharath leader and its PM candidate.
Phumtham on Friday voiced his confidence that Pheu Thai would succeed in forming a new coalition government despite certain challenges.
He also dismissed as “pure rumours” media reports that Pheu Thai now had to deal with prospective coalition partners pushing for coveted ministerial posts. He said the current discussions mainly focused on whether those parties would vote for Pheu Thai’s PM candidate Srettha Thavisin.
Phumtham said he had phoned Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul to discuss the matter. “There’s no problem at all,” he said.
But he declined to answer whether the baton would be passed on to Bhumjaithai, the third-largest biggest party in terms of MPs, to form a new government if Pheu Thai fails in its ongoing effort.
The deputy leader said that a new government should be formed as soon as possible to restore confidence in the country. He pointed to a decline in Thailand’s stock exchange index following days of uncertainty regarding the election of a new PM.
Phumtham asked parliamentarians to consider the public interest when making their decisions in electing a new prime minister.
He also voiced confidence that a Pheu Thai-led government would be able to address the country's problems and lead Thailand out of its economic crisis. “We will take the public demand into account, and not the party’s demand,” he said.