Today, the country braces for another showdown in parliament as the prospective eight-party coalition plans to re-nominate Move Forward party leader Pita Limjaroenrat as prime minister.
Their previous bid for the premiership last week was unsuccessful as Pita gained 324 votes in his favour while most of the Senate adamantly stood in the way. All the parties in the former government abstained. The junta-sponsored charter requires a successful PM candidate to win at least half of the votes from the two Houses, or currently 375 votes. The junta-sponsored charter -- or, to be precise, Section 272, which empowers senators to take part in picking the prime minister -- has caused a political stalemate.
The MFP hopes it can garner more support than last time. Yet, even the most optimistic person is likely to foresee the MFP's hopes becoming an ever more distant dream. Quite a few untoward incidents appear to have conspired against him. Today as MPs and senators prepare to cast their votes again, the charter court -- by request of the Election Commission -- will decide whether to accept a petition over his alleged iTV shares ownership and whether to suspend his MP status.
The EC has been criticised for alleged missteps and outright discrimination, and the timing of many of its decisions has left people wondering whether what is increasingly resembling the judicialisation of Thai politics is the result of foul play.
Indeed, Mr Pita's candidacy was marred by the debate surrounding Section 112 of the criminal code or the lese majeste law, with some politicians and senators belabouring the issue and even accusing the MFP of various misdemeanours during the July 13 session.
This is all very unfortunate, and it needs to be reiterated that a few senators have used the MFP's policy on Section 112 as a reason not to vote for any coalition party that includes the MFP in it. Apparently, the PM vote is actually an attempt to spell an end to attempts to amend Section 112 once and for all -- instead of letting political parties decide on the matter during the parliamentary deliberation process.
No matter the motive, the move by a few senators inevitably raises questions about the claim that the monarchy is above politics. And that, in itself, does more harm than good to the revered institution.
It's quite certain that some senators will try hard to block Mr Pita's re-nomination, citing that the process breaks House rules and regulations. In retaliation, the MFP is to go ahead with its plan to rip the Senate of its provisional power to name a prime minister, as stated in Section 272 of the charter. The move will result in confrontation and commotion, which is unhealthy for the whole parliamentary system.
Worse still will be the fallout. Evidently, society is again ambling into more raucous polarisation like it did during the pre-coup era. Tribalism is making a return with the beginning of street protests, intimidation and mudslinging campaigns that use online and social media to multiply their eco-chambers. Sadly, the peace and stability that society hoped to see after the May 14 election could be just another distant dream.
It's sad fact that parliament, as attested in the July 13 session, cannot serve as a mechanism for legislators to work out their differences constructively.
On top of that, what is going on, contentious bargaining and dealmaking, as well as the possible deadlock over the formation of the new government, is bad for the economy. Such blunders will only make people further lose trust in parliament and democracy.