Thai ruling party announced an alliance to form new govt

Members of Parliament who are part of the pro-junta political party Palang Pracharath join a meeting to vote for the new Speaker of the House of Representatives of Parliament, at the Telephone Organization of Thailand building, in Bangkok, on May 25, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BANGKOK, Aug 7, 2023, Reuters. Thailand’s populist Pheu Thai party announced on Monday (Aug 7) it was forming an alliance with the Bhumjaithai party and was open to other parties joining in to form a government nearly three months after elections, CNA reported.

Pheu Thai, led by the billionaire Shinawatra family, won the second-largest share of votes in the May election and last week stepped up to try and form a government after winner Move Forward’s attempts were blocked twice in parliament.

Pheu Thai came second in the May 14 general election with 141 House seats, followed by Bhumjaithai with 71.

“Pheu Thai and Bhumjaithai party will form the government with the support of other parties,” said Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew, adding that real estate mogul Srettha Thavisin remained the party’s candidate for prime minister.

“We would like to thank Bhumjaithai for accepting the invitation so that we can step over this political deadlock,” he told a news conference.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy has been beset by political uncertainty since opposition parties rode a wave of anti-establishment support to crush the incumbent military-backed rulers at the polls in May.

Move Forward, a progressive outfit that had campaigned on reforming the country’s controversial lese majeste laws, failed twice to find enough support in the royalist-dominated Senate to get party leader Pita Limjaroenrat voted in as prime minister.

The party has since then been sidelined, prompting some Thais to take to the streets and call for politicians to respect the will of the people.

Until last week Pheu Thai was part of an eight-party alliance led by Move Forward. After the Senate blocked Move Forward’s bid for the premiership for the second time, Pheu Thai withdrew from that alliance and said it would try separately to form a government.

“We didn’t get enough support from other parties and the Senate when Move Forward was trying to form a government,” Cholnan said, adding that Pheu Thai had a “high chance of success in forming a government with Bhumjaithai”.

Bhumjaithai, known for championing the decriminalisation of cannabis, said it would ally with Pheu Thai on three conditions including that the new alliance leaves untouched the country’s strict laws that forbid insulting the monarchy.

Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul also said his party would remain in the Pheu Thai-led alliance as long as Move Forward was not included and they didn’t form a minority government.

A joint sitting of the two houses of parliament has to vote for a prime minister, who then forms a government. A date has not yet been set for the next vote on the country’s prime minister.

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