The Pheu Thai Party (PTP), the party now tasked with forming a government, has commenced negotiations with other parties after the previous coalition found itself in a deadlock following a perplexing defeat during the second nomination of Move Forward Party (MFP) leader Pita Limcharoenrat for Prime Minister on July 19, when parliament voted to block individuals from being nominated more than once.
Since then, the MFP has decided to pass the baton to the PTP who will now nominate one of its candidates in the next round of nominations, scheduled for July 27.
The attempt to install Pita as PM has long been considered a Catch-22. But to successfully form a government in this dire situation, the coalition is also facing a herculean task of placating the Senate and factions that oppose the MFP's landmark policy to repeal Article 112 (the lèse-majesté law). The coalition has only 312 votes in its pocket.
With the intransigence of the conservative-leaning Senate in opposing any political party that aims to dismantle the lèse-majesté law, a position echoed by many political parties, the coalition is walking on a tightrope.
The MFP Is now in the crossfire as it is pressured to abandon its bid to repeal the law or risk being “let go.”
In Saturday’s watershed moment for the coalition, the PTP invited the Bhumjaithai, Chart Pattana Kla, and United Thai Nation parties to discuss the possibility of joining the 8-party coalition in forming a government.
But the prospects are dim, as disagreement over Article 112 remains the main justification for these parties not to join the coalition.
“We will not be able to work if the MFP remains. It is not a matter of any conflict, but it is a matter of the course of action, ideas, and working methods,” said Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul.
However, he stressed that his party is ready to cooperate with the PTP as the leading party in forming the government if “there is anything that can overcome the obstacles.”
Suwat Liptapanlop of Chart Pattana Kla, the party whose inclusion in the coalition was halted after a campaign by supporters of the MFP, said his party is ready to participate in the formation of the government with PTP as leader and support a PTP candidate for PM, but added that Article 112 remains his main concern.
“But if MFP’s policy to amend Article 112 remains, it may be inconsistent with the direction of the Chart Pattana Kla Party. We may not be able to join the government formation,” he said.
United Thai Nation Party leader Pirapan Salirathavibhaga also met with the PTP. The PTP said the goal of the meeting with the UTN was not to negotiate or invite them to form a government but “to listen to their solutions to the problems the country is currently facing.”
However, Pirapan stated that the UTN is not willing to work with the MFP. “Our ideologies do not go together, not just on 112.”
On Sunday, Pheu Thai also met with the Chart Thai Pattana Party who earlier said it wants nothing to do with amending the lèse-majesté law.
Meanwhile, Pita has accepted his fate and stated the most important thing is not him becoming Prime Minister, but the establishment of a government according to the will of the people who desire to change the direction and stop the perpetuation of power by the old regime.
“It is clear today that all the elements on the conservative side will not allow us to take the lead in forming a government by using the amendment of Article 112 as a condition and an excuse. But just because I cannot become prime minister does not mean that our hopes for changing the country will end here,” he wrote.
“The most important thing is not me becoming prime minister, but forming a government that follows the will of the people who want change and an end to the continuation in power of the former government.”