The current Prime Minister is well positioned to become the next government leader and should receive the support of Thailand Upper House when the new Thai Parliament convenes after the election which is still scheduled for February 2019 –
The chances of the current Prime Minister being elected to that position after the planned general election went up this week. Prayut Chan-ocha, for the first time, indicated an interest in making an alliance with the newly formed Palang Pracharat Party. It comes at a time when polls suggest that Thai people are interested in electing new parties and faces to a new political landscape. The polls showed that the Prime Minister is among the favorites for the position with a large majority expecting him to take the position after the next election.
The current Thai Prime Minister has this week openly expressed an interesting in allying himself with the newly formed Palang Pracharat Party. The new political party is sitting second in opinion polls with over 20% support behind the former ruling party Pheu Thai. The new party is interesting as it contains former ministers who worked within a number of successful administrations led by exiled former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra. It is also being supported by many in Thailand who would like to see an end to the rancour and strife that so dogged the country prior to the 2014 coup.
Remarkable poll shows current PM and Chairperson of Pheu Thai as favourite for PM slot
However there is still strong support for opposition parties with one poll recently putting Pheu Thai’s Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan at the top of the list as preferred Prime Minister. However the current prime minister Prayut Chan-ocha was not far behind at 24% compared to Khunying Sudarat’s 25%. The poll is quite remarkable as the 2nd preferred choice led a coup in 2014 and has been in power since 2014 while the Pheu Thai party has not been active and Thai politics has been dormant during the period in order to preserve national stability.
Large majority in Thailand want to see a change in the political landscape from the past
That poll was conducted from November 20th to November 22nd and has a sample of over 1,250 people of adult age. The poll was carried out by NIDA, the National Institute for Development Administration. The opinion poll showed that the mood of Thai people is for change with over 60% saying they wanted to see new political formations and individuals coming forward. They certainly have that with over 70 political parties and many new parties having being formed including Thai Raksa Chart, a spin off from Pheu Thai, the Palang Pracharat Party itself and Future Forward, a radical opposition that has been drawing strong support. That party is led Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a business tycoon who has made a name for himself for his implacable and vociferous opposition to the junta and the 2014 coup.
Prayut has a good chance of becoming Thai Prime Minister again after the general election
The influence of the Shinawatra family, while perhaps dimmed, is still a powerful factor and the former ruling party is still polling as the most popular political party. The problem is that it is facing possible dissolution by Thailand’s Election Commission which is currently probing its links with the fugitive ex Premier. Over 38% of Thai people, in the November NIDA poll, expressed a preference for the older parties that existed prior to he coup. To become Prime Minister again, the former Prime Minister will need to garner the the support of over 126 MPS in the lower house of the new Thai Parliament when it meets in May 2019 following the February election. This is because the upper chamber with 250 Senators is likely to support his candidacy. This chamber is likely to support the military. It looks like he may be able to achieve this.
Speaking to the press this week the PM did confirm his is thinking of joining forces with the Palang Pracharat Party. He pointed out that he was already working with leading members of that party who are in his cabinet. ‘These are the people who have been working with me. If..and if I do decide which party to join these would be the people.’
Prime Minister has not been asked yet to stand as PM by the new Palang Pracharat Party
The prime Minister has pointed out however that he has not been approached yet by the new party or its leadership. In mid November when the new party invites applications from founding members, the party leader and current Industry Minister, Uttama Savanayana confirmed this. He did however suggest that the party may well support the incumbent Prime Minister when Thailand returns to democracy. ‘The party will nominate the persons we believe are suitable. Please wait and see if there will be any surprises,’ he said. ‘For me, General Prayut is suitable to lead the country. But the final decision will rest with the party members.’
Political parties in Thailand must each accept the rules if they want to fight the election
Prayut was asked by reporters about a threat from some Thai political parties not to attend an important meeting between the parties, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO – the Thai military junta) and the Election Commission scheduled for this week. The Prime Minister responded strongly last weekend when asked about complaints being made about the electoral redrawing process now being undertaken by the commission and expected to be finalised by next week. Drawing a comparison between a fight boxer who refuses to comply with the rules of a fight, he said a fighter can simply reject the rules if he wanted to fight.’
Thai government awaiting the Royal Command for the coronation of the King to begin preparations
The Premier also revealed that the coronation of Thailand’s new monarch, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn, will now take place after the general election takes place. He said he was awaiting the Royal Command from the new King confirming the schedule. This is a process which normally is conducted in two parts. In the initial step the government would be obliged to to take measures which could be proceeded with during the period set for the election. The Prime Minister pointed out that the Election Commission would have to due regard to this issue also. The government’s key duty was to preserve the peace and order of the Kingdom. The second part of the coronation would take place after the election which is still scheduled for the end of February 2019.