'Unity' govt a non-starter
Some analysts believe that Thai politics is moving towards deadlock as two major political camps, namely the pro-military Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) and Pheu Thai Party, fiercely compete for a chance to lead a coalition government. Over the past weeks, negotiation and bargaining have become tense.
The PPRP, with 250 selected senators under its wing, is believed to have a distinct advantage over its rival. The senators will play a crucial role in the parliamentary vote to select a prime minister, bringing back Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to Government House. However, without a decisive majority, a coalition government formed under this party would have difficulty working. Due to its marginal (if at all) majority, the coalition is likely to be short-lived.
For Pheu Thai, the party might be successful in gathering seats to form a coalition but the number of MPs in its camp would not substantially outnumber its rival. As a result, the Pheu Thai coalition would face the same difficulty and would also likely be short-lived.
Given this bleak outlook, the idea of a national government has been floated by some politicians to save the country from political deadlock.
Gen Prayut has thrown cold water on the idea, however, as he may still hold out hope the PPRP can form a government. A national government in this context refers to a government that comprises all parties that won MP seats in the March 24 election. That would leave no opposition in parliament, meaning a checks and balances mechanism will not exist.
In previous political stalemates, some politicians floated the idea of a national government as a way out. Some called it a "national unity government" referring to a government with a mission of solving political divisions despite its faint chances of actually achieving any unity.
A unity government has yet to materialise in modern Thai politics. The closest the country has come to one was back in 1980 when Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, who served as defence minister and army chief at that time, gained support from all key parties and senators to become prime minister after Gen Kriangsak Chomanan stepped down. There was an opposition camp but it was so weak that Gen Prem could rise to power.
Nevertheless, political conflicts still erupted among core coalition parties, particularly between the Chart Thai Party and Social Action Party, with the latter finally withdrawing from the coalition, pulling down the curtain on the Prem administration after only one year in office.
While the possibility of forming a national government these days cannot entirely be ruled out, conflicts would likely be even more prominent as parties with different ideologies compete to gain more power within the coalition.
The only reason for such a national government to come into existence is to amend the 2017 constitution which is the major cause of several serious political problems as well as the current deadlock.
A national government, if formed, should be ad hoc with a mission to amend the charter with the consent of all stakeholders. After that, it must be dissolved and a fresh election under the new rules should be called.
Bangkok Post editorial column
These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.
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