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Coup Catastrophe Looms: Political Chaos Threatens Thailand’s Future – Will Democracy Survive?

The potential of conflict and another coup taking place is a looming concern if the Move Forward Party (MFP) fails in its attempt to form a coalition government, according to a political academic. However, the military has given its assurance that it will work to maintain order and has ruled out the possibility of another coup occurring.

Phichai Ratnatilaka Na Bhuket, a program director for politics and development strategy at the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida), outlined possible scenarios on Facebook for the outcome if the MFP succeeds or fails in forming a government. In order to form the new government, the MFP-led coalition, which currently has 313 MPs in total, will need the backing of at least 66 senators. According to Mr. Phichai, the MFP has the legitimacy to form a government, with its leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, standing out among other prime ministerial contenders, as he has international recognition and strong voter support.

“With the MFP leading the government, politics will stabilize, democracy will flourish, and the economy will progress. Thailand will be highly regarded by other nations,” Mr. Phichai stated. However, if the MFP fails to form a coalition government, the country could face instability due to division and conflict, leading to economic downturn and a negative image among other nations.

If the Pheu Thai Party takes the lead in forming a government, there is no guarantee that senators will vote for their prime ministerial candidate, Paetongtarn Shinawatra. Moreover, the party might struggle to integrate the Palang Pracharath and Bhumjaithai parties into its coalition due to resistance from the red-shirt groups. Division and conflict, as a result, could provide an opportunity for the military to initiate a coup and seize power, sending the country into a downward spiral.

Yutthaporn Issarachai, a political science lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, pointed out that the MFP’s supporters, especially on social media, have a significant influence on the party’s decision-making processes. According to Mr. Yutthaporn, the MFP might face confrontation with senators and opposing parties regarding the revision of Section 112 (the lese majeste law), but backing out from the move could lead them to confront their own supporters online.

Pol Gen Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, leader of the Seri Ruam Thai Party, which is part of the MFP-led coalition bloc, voiced concerns about a memorandum of understanding (MoU) drafted by the MFP that he believes imposes too many obligations on coalition partners. The MoU, set to detail the coalition’s collaboration and solutions to national, political, economic, and social crises, currently includes various military reform matters but excludes the issue related to Section 112.

Despite concerns of unrest and coups, an army source claims that the likelihood of another coup remains low even if the MFP fails to form a government and faces potential street protests from its supporters. “In the past, a coup could take place under such circumstances. But right now, a coup is unlikely. However, it remains to be seen how the military will maintain order without having to stage a coup,” the source said. In line with these statements, the army chief, Gen Narongpan Jittkaewtae, previously assured that no coups would take place during his leadership, indicating a zero chance of a coup and urging people to remove the word “coup” from their vocabulary.

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