Political drama grows as Pheu Thai scraps key coalition meeting

Photo: Pheu Thai Party
Photo: Pheu Thai Party

The Pheu Thai Party canceled a meeting today with its political allies in cobbling together the next government one day after a constitutional challenge to its last failed bid to do so.

The meeting was canceled just before noon without a public statement from the party, which seeks to nominate its own candidate to be prime minister following last week’s defeat of Pita Limjaroenrat after lawmakers denied him a second round of voting.

Some political observers speculated that the party canceled the meeting to await a court ruling on whether Parliament violated the constitution by denying a second-round vote for Pita last week, when a majority voted that doing so would violate the rules. Others believed it was due to a lack of progress in winning more support.

The ombudsman of the Parliament yesterday asked the Constitutional Court to consider a Move Forward petition challenging that and urging parliament to hold off any further voting on the premiership until a ruling has been made.

Pheu Thai’s attempts to shore up support to lead the next government by reaching out to parties aligned with the military and the elite has cost it support among the public, which delivered a surprise election win to Move Forward’s progressive platform in May’s election. No new date for the meeting has been announced.

By late Tuesday morning, party leaders moved the meeting from their headquarters in Huai Khwang to the parliament due to security concerns after protesters threw flour on party leader Chonlanan Srikaew and Thamanat Prompow, the head of a military proxy party once convicted in Australia of trafficking heroin. 

Pheu Thai is expected to nominate real estate tycoon Srettha Thavisin. It has a fine line to walk between trying to draw enough support to prevail in the Parliament while not alienating supporters by aligning with the military-backed status quo.

Currently, the eight-party coalition includes Move Forward, Pheu Thai, Prachachart, Thai Sang Thai, Seri Ruam Thai, Pen Tham, Palang Sangkom Mai, and Pheu Thai Ruam.

The Constitutional Court is vested with life-and-death power over politicians and their parties. It is also considering a petition from the Election Commission to disqualify Pita from serving due to shares he owned in a defunct media company.

Earlier this month, a majority of elected lawmakers in the lower house and unelected Senate voted against Pita becoming prime minister despite his public mandate. Many cited his party’s intentions to revise the criminal code on insulting the monarchy.

Last week, a majority voted to block a second vote from taking place under Rule 41 of parliamentary procedure, which bars a repeat motion during the same session. A number of legal experts have challenged that interpretation of the rule.

Bangkok rallies for Pita as Move Forward’s moment fades
Move Forward vows to battle on by supporting Pheu Thai gov’t – with exceptions
Protesters gather outside parliament after court suspends Pita
Senate no-shows at PM vote had good excuses: speaker
Pita falls short in parliament as mass abstentions muddy vote


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