Thailand’s opposition has rallied around a rising progressive star with this morning’s announcement that the will be the PM candidate of a seven-party coalition seeking to take the seat from junta leader Prayuth Chan-o-cha.
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the charismatic leader of the Future Forward Party, has been selected to stand as the nominee of a coalition determined to end the military’s hold on power when parliament meets Wednesday to select a new prime minister.
The decision by Pheu Thai’s proposed prime minister candidates – Sudarat Keyuraphan, Chaikasem Nitisiri and Chadchart Sittipun – signifies a stunning political realignment behind Thanathorn of an opposition movement long dominated by one man – fugitive former PM and de facto Pheu Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
Party elder Sudarat recently announced she would turn down the post, and the other coalition members said they will not put their own forward.
Pheu Thai and Future Forward, who placed first and third in March’s election, have allied with five smaller parties in a bid to block what had seemed the inevitable ascension of Prayuth to the office under rules written to favor ongoing military rule. Prayuth has ruled Thailand since seizing power in 2014.
The coalition now believes it has a better chance of winning if it’s represented by Thanathorn, who has won wide support among the electorate. It’s also a pragmatic move, as the pro-democracy faction is more likely to peel away conscience-plagued members of the Democrat Party reluctant to support a candidate from arch-rival Pheu Thai.
Just weeks ago, the pro-establishment Palang Pracharath Party was poised to get enough support to install its nominee, Prayuth, but lost momentum after its Democrat partners walked away over disputed cabinet posts. Negotiations remained in limbo until this past weekend when been in limbo until this past weekend when the house speaker said the vote would be called Wednesday.
Prayuth had been resisting pressure to speak publicly before the parliament about his vision to lead the nation, leading junta legal adviser Wissanu Krea-ngam to say today that he was under no obligation and would not appear at tomorrow’s session.
Prepare a fresh batch of popcorn for tomorrow’s outcome when parliament convenes to vote for the next prime minister over 10 weeks since election day.