Thailand: Rivals begin scramble for allies

  • While Pheu Thai and Palang Pracharath (PPRP) jostle hard to try and gain the upper hand in forming a coalition government, the Bhumjaithai Party is emerging as a potential “kingmaker” in the post-election power struggle – the result of which is still too early to call.
  • As of late afternoon on 25 Mar 19, though the PPRP (97) has come second to Pheu Thai (137) when it comes to the total number of constituency seats won, the PPRP has more popular support with 7.9 million votes to Pheu Thai’s 7.4 million. As such, the PPRP is expected to bag 116 seats in total – 19 of which will be seats won under the party-list system.
  • This means that Pheu Thai needs the support of other parties for it to achieve the simple majority it needs to form a coalition government, though only Future Forward Party (FFP) has explicitly said that it shares Pheu Thai’s aim to oust the regime so far.
  • However, with preliminary results indicating that the FFP would only have 80 seats under its belt – consisting of 29 constituency seats and 51 party-list seats – Pheu Thai needs to court other parties to reach its target.
  • The Bhumjaithai Party, which is expected to win 51 seats, with 39 constituency seats and an estimated 12 party-list seats, is quickly turning into a “kingmaker”, as the party has yet to commit to either the pro-or anti-junta party.
  • A Pheu Thai source said that key party figures were willing to negotiate and make compromises with other parties, if they agree to put their weight behind Pheu Thai’s bid to lead a coalition government.
  • Meanwhile, its PM candidate Khuying Sudarat Keyruphan said that based on the unofficial results, Pheu Thai should be given the right to form a government, adding that the party will begin approaching other parties who also oppose extending the regime’s rule.
  • Similarly, PPRP leader Uttama Savanayana said that the PPRP will also begin approaching other parties for coalition talks, before adding that he is confident that its bid will be successful and said that since it won 7.9 million votes, the party has won a mandate and the legitimacy to set up a government.
  • The Action Coalition for Thailand, meanwhile, has openly backed Gen Prayut’s bid to stay in power, but his party only has five seats in the bag.
  • As for the Democrat Party, its leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said after announcing his resignation that the future direction of the party will be decided by the executive board. However, Thaworn Senneam, a Democrat candidate for Songkhla, on 25 Mar 19 hinted at the possibility that the party may join the PPRP-led coalition.

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