Pheu Thai, a party backed by former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s family, held talks with the largest group in parliament to shore up support for its prime minister candidate amid signs it faces hurdles from the pro-royalist groups in its bid to form a government.
(Bloomberg) — Pheu Thai, a party backed by former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s family, held talks with the largest group in parliament to shore up support for its prime minister candidate amid signs it faces hurdles from the pro-royalist groups in its bid to form a government.
Thaksin’s daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra and party leader Cholnan Srikaew met leaders of the Move Forward Party on Wednesday to persuade them to back their prime minister candidate Srettha Thavisin. But there were no firm assurances from Move Forward, which previously led a pro-democracy coalition that was disbanded after Pheu Thai parted ways to build its own bloc.
“We talked about the situation we are in to establish mutual understanding,” Paetongtarn told reporters after the meeting. “We’re not in conflict. Both parties are mature and want the country to move forward.”
Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat, whose premier bid was twice thwarted by pro-royalist senators, said his party had yet to decide on its premier vote strategy.
Pheu Thai’s outreach to its former ally came after it added six more partners to the coalition it has put together with conservative Bhumjaithai party. With the addition of 16 more lawmakers, the alliance’s support in the 500-member House of Representatives rose to 228.
If Pheu Thai succeeds in its efforts to build a majority alliance, it may help ease the uncertainty around Thailand’s government formation, which has kept the nation on edge and rattled investors. Foreign investors have dumped a net $3.8 billion worth of Thai stocks this year, driving the nation’s benchmark equity gauge about 9% lower, the worst-performing major market in Asia.
While Pheu Thai executives have said they are confident of forming a government with majority support in the lower house, it’s still not clear how it will ensure Srettha’s win. The former property tycoon will need the backing of the majority of the 750 lawmakers in a joint sitting of the the lower house and the pro-military Senate.
Pheu Thai may need to include at least one of two military-backed parties in its coalition to gain Senate backing for Srettha, but doing so may antagonize Move Forward’s lawmakers, who are set to sit in the opposition.
More parties will formally join Pheu Thai’s coalition in the coming days, Cholnan said. Most of the small joiners on Wednesday were previously part of Move Forward’s coalition.
“To solve this crisis, we need to end political polarization. We need cooperation from all sides, all groups, everyone, to form a government,” Cholnan said, adding that unity and reconciliation were the coalition’s “top national agenda.”
(Updates with details throughout.)
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