Popular Move Forward Party leader who is also the public’s favourite for Prime Minister in opinion polls is sidelined due to a Constitutional Court suspension order on his role as an MP on the same day his nomination as Prime Minister failed to reach 375 votes in a joint sitting of parliament.
Sunday will see the emergence of a new Move Forward Party leader and Leader of the Opposition in the Thai parliament. It follows the resignation of Pita Limjaroenrat last Friday because of his impaired ability to carry out his role linked to the suspension of his role as an MP by the Constitutional Court on July 12th.
The Move Forward Party is to meet on Sunday, September 24th to elect a new leader with the current speculation favouring the current Secretary General of the party Mr Chaitawat Tulathon.
Mr Chaitawat led efforts after the May 14th General Election to put together a variable government in the form of a Move Forward Pheu Thai coalition but was ultimately unsuccessful in orchestrating a parliamentary majority to support the nomination of Move Forward’s Pita Limjaroenrat as Thailand’s 30th Prime Minister.
Move Forward Deputy Leader Sirikanya Tansakul has emerged as a very strong performer in parliament
This news comes alongside extremely successful contributions in Parliament from the party’s deputy leader and economic team head, Ms Sirikanya Tansakul, who in the absence of Mr Pita has taken a leading role since the party assumed its position as the main opposition in the House of Representatives to the current government since the beginning of September.
On Friday last, Mr Pita Limjaroenrat who has just been announced on the Time 100 list of next-generation leaders, announced his resignation as leader of the country’s largest political party due to the current Constitutional Court suspension of his activities as an MP after a case was brought against him in July by the country’s Election Commission over his late father’s shareholding in the defunct television company ITV which has been off air since 2007.
Pita Limjaroenrat emerged, in the months leading up to the May 14th General Election, as the most popular Thai politician to be Prime Minister and consistently retains a strong support base amongst the population according to National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) opinion polls.
Move Forward Party is now the opposition
In recent weeks, it became apparent that the Move Forward Party would assume the role of leadership of the opposition while its MPs in the House of Representatives have warmed to the task.
It had been suggested, at one point, that the Democrat Party, which was obliterated in the May General Election, with only 25 MPs elected, might assume the role but this was quickly ruled out by senior parliamentarians including the outgoing House Speaker, former Prime Minister and Democrat Party stalwart, Mr Chuan Leekpai.
Pita says Move Forward can win next General Election by a landslide after decisive Rayong poll success
‘The current constitution stipulates that the opposition leader must be an MP who leads the top opposition party and I am still unable to fulfil my duties in the House of Representatives and won’t be able to accept the role of opposition leader in the near future,’ Mr Pita said in a statement announcing his resignation as Move Forward Party leader.
Party is still flying high after September 10th by-election win in Rayong with nearly 60% of the vote
His resignation comes with his political career still in high standing following a sweeping victory by Move Forward in the recent by-election in Rayong province on September 10th where it polled nearly 60% of the electorate with a 56% turnout.
‘After consulting with the executive committee and party MPs, we have concluded that the position of opposition leader is of utmost importance in the parliamentary system and the position should be undertaken by the main opposition party in the House of Representatives,’ Mr Pita’s statement disclosed. ‘In other words, the Move Forward party should lead the opposition, which is responsible for keeping the government under scrutiny and checks, while pushing for changes that are not included in the government’s policies.’
Mr Pita is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in the United States.
The 43-year-old was initially educated in Thailand at Thammasat University, before later attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he attained an MBA.
Young political leader stormed to victory in the May 14th General Election but then failed to be elected by a joint sitting of parliament on July 12th
18 years ago, at the age of 25, Mr Pita was forced to return to Thailand to take over as the chief executive of a large Thai agri-food business on the death of his father at that time.
The key political leader, whose nickname is Tim, was married from 2012 to 2019 to Ms Chutima Teepanart and has one young daughter.
Move Forward Party’s good election result leaves uncertainty as to who will form the next government
He led the Move Forward Party to a stunning election victory on May 14th, 2023, but his nomination to become Prime Minister was defeated in a joint assembly of the House of Representatives and Senate on July 12th last, when large numbers in the Senate both abstained and opposed his nomination together with MPs associated with the outgoing government.
Mr Pita Limjaroenrat was suspended from his role as an MP a week later by the Constitutional Court.