Discord in the coalition alliance is discernible as Pheu Thai adjourns two successive meetings. A clear testament to this was when Chonlanan Srikaew, the Pheu Thai chief, made it known to the media on Wednesday that his party had exhausted all their efforts in supporting Pita Limjaroenrat, who was put forward as a PM candidate by Move Forward. He mentioned that each and every member of his party gave their vote to Pita during the combined Parliamentary session that took place on the 13th of July.
He added that despite Pita, a Harvard alumnus, having a strong profile, his bid to clinch the PM seat was unsuccessful. The root cause was his party’s endeavor to modify Article 112 of the Penal Code, otherwise known as the lese majeste law. This turned out to be a bitter pill to swallow for the majority of senators and other parties, who in turn decided not to vote for him. Chonlanan declared, “Therefore, Pheu Thai plans to exit the coalition and look for new alliances to establish a government.”
However, this decision sparked outrage among the party’s devotees. As a sign of their discontent, throngs of people assembled outside the party’s headquarters where they aired their grievances. The agitated crowd went as far as burning puppets and spraying red liquid in the vicinity.
After coming second and winning 141 parliamentary seats to Move Forward’s 151 in the polls held on May 14, Pheu Thai has made strides. Nonetheless, this retreat from the alliance consisting of eight parties leaves the party with no other choice but to forge alliances with parties with a pro-junta inclination to guarantee adequate votes in parliament.
With a firm stance against amending Article 112, and only proposing former realty magnate Srettha Thavisin as the sole option for PM candidate in Friday’s re-polling, Pheu Thai has revealed its modus operandi. The party’s chief expressed his belief that Srettha will clinch the PM’s seat on that particular day and said more details about potential coalition partners would be released on the eve of the rerun.
Chonlanan also made it clear that even though Pheu Thai has chosen to let go of Move Forward, they will persist in upholding policies that both parties had in common. These include drafting a revamped charter, support for marriage equality, military reforms, and dissolving monopolies in key sectors such as liquor.
A new election round will be set up once the drafting of a new Constitution is complete according to Chonlanan. Pheu Thai’s vice-chief, Phumtham Wechayachai, in the meanwhile, stated that it is entirely up to Move Forward to determine if they will support Srettha in the PM re-elections.