CEO Morning Brief

Thai Coalition Forms Transition Team as It Chases Senate Support

Publish date: Wed, 31 May 2023, 08:52 AM
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TheEdge CEO Morning Brief
Pita Limjaroenrat, Move Forward’s leader and the bloc’s prime minister candidate.

(May 30): Thailand’s Move Forward Party-led coalition set up a power transition team, as it prepares to form the next government after sweeping the May 14 election.

A meeting of the leaders of the eight-party alliance, which holds a clear majority in the 500-member House of Representatives, agreed on Tuesday (May 30) to meet every week until it can formally take power, said Pita Limjaroenrat, Move Forward’s leader and the bloc’s prime minister candidate.

The formation of the power transition panel comes after Move Forward and Pheu Thai, the largest parties in the coalition, publicly squabbled over the house Speaker’s post, raising questions about the group’s ability to work together and iron out differences.

“We insist that our work is going well and we will stay united,” Pita told reporters in Bangkok, adding the claim over the Speaker’s job will be settled as soon as possible and it won’t come in the way of government formation. The allocation of Cabinet positions will also be discussed later, he said.

A Pita-led government may be several weeks or months away as the Election Commission has until July 13 to certify official election results, which will pave the way for the first meeting of the house and selection of the prime minister. The alliance, which has 312 lawmakers, needs another 64 votes to ensure Pita’s win in a joint sitting of the lower house and the Senate.

Even though the coalition commands a clear lower house majority, the Harvard-educated Pita still faces opposition from a majority of the 250-member upper house Senate that also gets to vote on the prime minister until early 2024.

The chamber is stacked with allies of the pro-military royalist establishment that opposes Move Forward’s key campaign proposal to amend the lese majeste law, which punishes criticism against the country’s king by up to 15 years in prison. Some conservative parties have also cited the same reason when ruling out their endorsement for Pita’s premiership bid.

Pita said that talks with members of the Senate were going “very well”.

The pro-democracy coalition will also form seven working panels, the first of 23 subcommittees planned to fine-tune priority agendas agreed by member parties, Pita said.

Pheu Thai will support the Move Forward-led coalition and had no plan to stake a claim to lead a new bloc, its leader Cholnan Srikaew said, seeking to put to rest speculation about its political strategy.

“No matter what happens, we will stick together forever,” said Cholnan.

Source: TheEdge - 31 May 2023

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