| 17 July 2024, Wednesday |

Thailand’s Pita open to coalition ally leading government if he fails in PM bid

Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of Thailand’s election winning Move Forward Party, on Saturday raised the prospect of a political ally leading the new government if he fails to become prime minister.

Pita, 42, whose progressive party scored a surprise victory in the May 14 election, lost an initial vote for the premiership on Thursday, unable to secure enough votes in a joint sitting of the country’s 749-member parliament.

The Move Forward leader said he will seek a second vote for the top job on Wednesday, adding if he fails again he will ask the Pheu Thai party, which came second in the election and is Move Forward’s key partner in the eight-party alliance, to lead the formation of the government.

“If it becomes clear that Move Forward Party cannot realistically lead government formation then I am… open to having the party that came second, which is Pheu Thai, to lead,” Pita said.

“All of Move Forward members of parliaments are ready to support Pheu Thai’s prime minister candidates,” he said.

Pheu Thai holds 141 seats in the Lower House, 10 less than Move Forward. The two parties are part of an eight-party alliance that has a majority 312 seats in the 500-seats Lower House.

Pheu Thai’s candidates for the post of prime minister include real estate tycoon Srettha Thavisin and Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the daughter and niece of former premiers Thaksin Shinawatra and Yingluck Shinawatra, who were overthrown in coups.

Pheu Thai leader Chonlanan Srikaew said on Friday his party will support Pita’s bid to become prime minister.

Pita’s main obstacle is in a Senate appointed by the royalist military after the 2014 coup where only 13 out of 249 senators backed him in Thursday’s vote.

The party is trying to curb the Senate’s power to vote for the prime minister by launching a draft bill on Friday but it said the process could take a month.

  • Reuters