The Election Commission’s endorsement of all 500 MPs-elect has paved the way for parliament to convene and choose a new prime minister. The Move Forward Party (MFP) secured the largest number of house seats in the May 14 general election and formed an alliance with seven parties that agreed to support its leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, in the prime minister’s vote. Although the MFP-led bloc has amassed a total of 312 seats within the alliance, which can ensure a majority government, securing Pita’s premiership remains a daunting challenge.
As things currently stand, the Pheu Thai Party, its ally, and the first runner-up, is heavily regarded as being better positioned to obtain the prime ministership. Various political analysts have weighed in on the opening of parliament and barriers the MFP and Pita must overcome in their pursuit of the highest office. Under the constitution, the House of Representatives will convene to vote for the House speaker and two deputies within 15 days after the endorsement of the new MPs, which is expected to happen on July 6.
Following the selection of the House speaker and deputies, 500 MPs and 250 senators will elect a new prime minister in a joint sitting, potentially happening on July 13. The appointment of the new cabinet and swearing-in ceremony for new ministers should be completed by August. Although this general timeframe follows the law, there are many obstacles standing between the MFP, its prime minister candidate, and the prime minister post they are seeking.
One of the main challenges the MFP faces is securing the House speaker position. The party has yet to settle the issue with the Pheu Thai Party which is also eyeing the position. Should this dispute not be resolved amicably, it could put Pita in a bind when the prime minister vote takes place.
Pita himself is accused of breaching the media shareholder regulations, and this issue of qualifications has the potential to derail his bid, particularly if it is brought before the Constitutional Court for a ruling. The MFP leader held 42,000 shares in iTV, which some argue is a functional media company when he registered his candidacy in the general election.
Should Pita be suspended from duty by a court order, he can still be nominated as prime minister. However, there are a number of questions that lawmakers might need to ponder if this happens. The MFP-led bloc also faces the struggle of obtaining the 376 votes necessary from both chambers to support Pita’s bid for premiership. They need backing from at least 63 others from outside the coalition. Reaching these numbers is considered an uphill task.
If the candidate fails to secure the required support in the first round, MPs and senators will vote repeatedly until a prime minister is chosen. It may even reach a point where the Pheu Thai Party gives up, and to break the stalemate, they may nominate one of their prime minister candidates for parliament to choose from instead.
Despite potential legal issues and uncertainties, Pita is making his way closer to becoming the country’s next prime minister. While there are divisions surrounding the House speaker position, it is anticipated that the Pheu Thai Party will respect voters who voted overwhelmingly for change and concede the post to the MFP, retaining two deputies.
However, there is still the possibility of the Pheu Thai Party stepping in to nominate one of its three candidates if Pita’s bid is unsuccessful after a few rounds of voting. With multiple voting rounds, the prime minister selection process is expected to take no more than two months, but no more than four votes will likely be cast.
Furthermore, Pita faces legal hurdles with regard to media share ownership. However, recent court rulings in similar cases may lessen his concerns. In conclusion, the MP leader’s pursuit of becoming the next prime minister is uncertain, and he must navigate various legal and political challenges to secure the top job.