Key Move Forward Party leader holds to his belief that the Upper House will support Mr Pita Limjaroenrat to the extent required on Thursday to elect him as Prime Minister. With intensive talks ongoing, Mr Chaitawat Tulathon says media reports have understated the more constructive nature of the upper house.
As a historic week in Thai politics dawns with reports already filtering in of possible dramatic developments in the coming days, the Secretary-general of the Move Forward Party, Mr Chaitawat Tulathon, has been speaking about his hopes that the nomination of Mr Pita Limjaroenrat as Prime Minister before a joint meeting of parliament on Thursday will be carried with the support of a large cadre of responsible upper house members who respect the vote of the May 14th General Election and are determined to uphold the democratic principle. Mr Chaitawat warned that press reports in the last few weeks have tended to amplify the opposition to Mr Pita.
This week promises to be a historic one for Thai politics. Reports have emerged in the last 24 hours that a move will be made to bring about a Constitutional Court intervention on Wednesday which may impact Thursday’s vote in Parliament for the election of Thailand’s next Prime Minister.
This follows public rallies on Sunday in Suphan Buri and Bangkok addressed by Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat, who is still widely tipped to be Thailand’s 30th Prime Minister despite what appears to be a virulent and unrelenting campaign against him from the conservative right.
Move Forward Party Secretary-general Chaitawat Tulathon says there are enough senators to elect Pita Limjaroenrat as Thailand’s 30th Prime Minister
Over the weekend, Mr Chaitawat Tulathon, the Secretary General of the Move Forward Party, was adamant that enough members of the Thai Senate would ultimately support the bid by the eight-party coalition representing 62% of MPs in the House of Representatives to elect Mr Pita as the next Prime Minister on Thursday.
Mr Chaitawat explained to reporters that the negative noises and statements coming last week from various senators were indicative of the personal views of those senators. He suggested that many in the upper house were ready to ultimately support the will of the people as expressed in the May 14th General Election.
This was the view taken up by Senator Amphon Jindawatana on Saturday who took to social media to issue a statement.
Senator Amphon has been among several senators who have long proposed that the unelected upper chamber should follow the democratic principle and vote along the lines indicated by the majority in the House of Representatives.
Senator says he will vote with the House of Representatives majority and urges colleagues to think of their place in history and the people’s will
Senator Amphon told the public that he intended to vote in line with the majority view of the House of Representatives when Parliament meets on Thursday in a joint session to elect the next Prime Minister.
Senator Amphon says this is what he did in 2019 when he voted for Prime Minister Prayut Chan Ocha and he will apply the same principle on Thursday.
The senator described it as his civic duty to do so and asked other senators to consider how history and posterity will remember them.
He revealed he personally did not want to exercise the powers granted to the Upper House under the controversial Section 272 provision of the 2017 constitution, which gave the Senate a say on the election of the Thai Prime Minister in a joint session with the House of Representatives for a provisional period of five years from the first meeting of Parliament under the new Charter.
This means that the Senate’s vote on powers concerning the election of the Prime Minister will expire in May 2024, five years after the first parliament met in May 2019.
Senate’s power on the elections of the Prime Minister will expire in May 2024, many have already voted to ‘turn off the switch’ before then out of respect
Senator Amphon, in the past, has been associated with parliamentary moves to remove the power granted to the Senate under Section 272 in a campaign known as ‘turn off the switch’ which ultimately was not passed by the last Parliament.
At that time, 84 senators voted in favour of the move, which may give some indication of the level of support that may exist for Mr Pita in the Upper House, although conservative senators have insisted that not more than half a dozen within their ranks will vote for the more radical Move Forward Party leader as Thailand’s next Prime Minister.
The fact that one analyst last week described senators who voted in support of Mr Pita as ‘turncoats’ tells a lot about the bitter division that runs deep in Thai society despite efforts to restore democracy in the kingdom and the ongoing threat of political instability.
Move Forward Party Secretary-general is confident that many reasonable and responsible senators are thinking along the same lines as Senator Amphon
On Friday, the Secretary General of the Move Forward Party, Mr Chaitawat, told reporters that he was optimistic that senators by and large will support Mr Pita’s candidacy for prime minister because of respect for democratic principles.
He said he was confident in the judgement of senators and described next Thursday’s election in Parliament as an opportunity to restore normal democracy to Thailand.
Many senators will vote along these lines, he suggested.
The Move Forward Party stated that there may be some MPs in the House of Representatives, in addition to the 312 members of the Eight Party Coalition, who are guaranteed to vote for Mr Pita, that may ultimately vote in favour of the Move Forward Party nominee also.
Concern about abstentions in the vote for PM
It should be noted that in the contested election for the House Speaker last week, there were very few MPs who were prepared to positively support the Move Forward Party candidate in the House of Representatives.
Most, instead, opted to abstain.
In the election on Thursday, any MP or senator who abstains is effectively voting against Mr Pita, who must attain 376 votes or half the combined assembly of the Senate and the House of Representatives to be elected to the position.
Over the weekend, Mr Chaitawat disclosed that polite and friendly negotiations are ongoing with members of the Senate and indicated that concern over the Move Forward Party’s position on Article 112 may be exaggerated in press reports.
Fears relating to Article 112 also exaggerated and amplified by media and press reports in recent weeks while goodwill of Senate is understated
The Move Forward Party Secretary General underlined that the Party would only enact changes which would strengthen democracy in the Kingdom, underlining that many of those in the upper house were responsible people who had the best interests of the country at heart.
‘Don’t underestimate the military profession just yet. Many soldiers have good hopes for the country,’ Mr Chaitawat explained.
He suggested that this view had been communicated to the party through its talks and communications with members of the upper house, many of whom are either current or former military, civilian, police or civil authority officials who are accustomed to working in the best interests of the kingdom.
Pita to be Prime Minister on Thursday
Mr Chaitawat said he believed that Mr Pita would ultimately be elected on Thursday, July 13th, but also indicated that the Speaker of the House, Mr Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, had already scheduled a second vote on July 19th or 20th.
He accepted that there were senators who were vehemently opposed to Mr Pita’s election as Prime Minister, as was their right, but appeared to believe that the number of Senators opposed to the election of Mr Pita as Prime Minister have been overstated in press reports.
Mr Chaitawat also commented on moves by the Palang Pracharat Party to nominate either Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan or Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul as prime minister saying that other parties had the right to nominate their own choice for prime minister before the House of Representatives and force a vote, but insisted that he was not worried about this.