Thailand: Parties want to bypass Senate to pick PM but no consensus made

  • On 18 Mar 19, three major parties – the Democrats, Pheu Thai and Future Forward (FFP) had agreed at a forum that the House of Representatives should have the first say in voting for a Prime Minister (PM) before allowing the pro-regime Senate to interfere.
  • Democrat Party’s leader Mr Abhisit Vejjajiva said that doing so would reflect people’s wishes as the Member of Parliaments (MPs) are directly elected; his views were echoed by Pokin Polakul, a key Pheu Thai figure, but he said that some MPs from the majority bloc could be bought to vote for a PM candidate of a minority group’s choice should the Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP)- the pro-regime party, be able to form a minority government with the support of 200 of the 500 MPs.
  • Legal expert with the FFP, Chamnan Chanrueng, said that only an overwhelming vote by the MPs to prevent a stronghold of PM Prayut’s candidacy can be made to pressure the Senate not to endorse an unpopular choice.
  • The prime ministerial vote will be preceded by a vote in parliament to choose the parliamentary president. Normally, the highest position in the legislative branch is occupied by a person nominated by the party with the most MPs. But this time around, that might not be the case as there is plenty of time for “negotiation” between the general election and the day the new parliament first convenes.
  • Overall, the 250-member Senate, is likely to be the deciding factor as even a candidate proposed by the second or third largest party could succeed with its support.

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