Move Forward Party, the surprise winner in Thailand’s May election, ruled out support to a coalition led by its former ally and prime minister candidate Srettha Thavisin, a move likely to give conservative groups a greater say in the formation of a new government.
(Bloomberg) — Move Forward Party, the surprise winner in Thailand’s May election, ruled out support to a coalition led by its former ally and prime minister candidate Srettha Thavisin, a move likely to give conservative groups a greater say in the formation of a new government.
The decision to not back the alliance led by Pheu Thai, a party linked to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was unanimous and taken by Move Forward lawmakers at a meeting on Tuesday, the party’s Secretary-General Chaithawat Tulathon told reporters.
The denial of support for Srettha risks pushing Pheu Thai toward conservative adversaries and pro-royalist senators, who thwarted Move Forward’s previous efforts to form a government under Pita Limjaroenrat. The former property tycoon is set to be nominated by the new bloc that includes some conservative parties and erstwhile members of the Pita-led coalition, which was disbanded after Pheu Thai parted ways.
“The current efforts to form a government aren’t in line with the results of the election,” Chaithawat told reporters. “We don’t want to be a part of this.”
Move Forward, which won 151 seats in the 500-member House of Representatives, was the frontrunner to form the government in the weeks after the May 14 election and now risks being relegated to the opposition. Pita was blocked largely due to his party’s unwillingness to back down from a pledge to amend royal insult laws and other platforms that may hurt pro-military business elites.
The political gridlock has hurt investor sentiments with Thailand’s benchmark stock index extending a slump to nearly 9% this year with analysts at Bank of America Corp. expecting further losses. Political parties are now under pressure to end the stalemate and tackle issues such as a fragile economic recovery, high household debt and rising cost of living.
Pheu Thai’s coalition is backed by 238 lawmakers in the lower house, with conservative-leaning Bhumjaithai Party of cannabis champion Anutin Charnvirakul as its biggest ally. To become prime minister, Srettha will need the support of the majority of 750 lawmakers in a joint vote of the National Assembly, which combines the elected lower house and the Senate that’s stacked with allies of the pro-military royalist establishment.
With Move Forward ruling out its support, Pheu Thai’s options are narrowing and it may have to turn to military-backed parties such as Palang Pracharath and United Thai Nation for support. The coalition will welcome support from these parties and consider including their representatives in the new government, Pheu Thai’s deputy leader Phumtham Wechayachai said.
Pheu Thai is confident of Srettha’s win and the party holds no grudges against Move Forward for not supporting him, its leader Cholnan Srikaew told reporters. The party expects its government to be formed by early September.
House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha is likely to set a new date for premier vote after the nation’s constitutional court on Wednesday decides on a petition against a parliament decision to deny Pita a second shot at prime minister’s job last month.
–With assistance from Pathom Sangwongwanich.
(Updates with comments from Pheu Thai from eighth paragraph.)
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