Pheu Thai to announce coalition

Pheu Thai to announce coalition

Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai speaks to reporters about the party's move to form a coalition government. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai speaks to reporters about the party's move to form a coalition government. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

At least six pro-democracy parties led by Pheu Thai will hold a briefing on their intention to form the government even without Bhumjaithai or the Democrats on Wednesday morning.

Of the 500 seats in the House, Pheu Thai won 137 seats, according to unofficial results. Other parties which have made clear their stand not to support power succession by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha or the Palang Prachararth Party are Future Forward (87 seats), Thai Liberal or Seri Ruamthai (11), Prachachat (6), New Economics (6) and Puea Chat (5).

Together, their seats totalled 252, enough to form the government but far short of the 376 required to choose the prime minister.

The leaders and key members of these parties will meet at 10am at the Lancaster Hotel in Bangkok.

Pol Lt Gen Viroj Pao-in, party leader, and Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, a PM candidate, will represent Pheu Thai. FFP will be led by leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul.

Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai earlier said his party was willing to support Anutin Charnvirakul, leader of the Bhumjaithai, as prime minister of a coalition government.

He also showed a willingness to work with FFP, saying that the party's conditions for joining a coalition were "acceptable".

Asked if the party had offered the prime ministership to Mr Anutin, he said Pheu Thai neither clung to any positions nor had any conditions.

The Pheu Thai secretary-general said the party wanted only that the country should move ahead and to improve the people's well-being, as pledged during its campaign.

To form a coalition government, two factors must be taken into consideration -- getting the support of 251 House votes, and getting the 376 votes needed to propose the prime minister. The government would not be stable if both factors were not met, Mr Phumtham said.

Mr Phumtham also said FFP and Pheu Thai share the same political direction. He saw FFP’s political platform and conditions for joining a coalition government as acceptable.

On Monday, FFP leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit laid down three conditions for joining a coalition, based on his party's campaign pledges -- to rewrite the constitution, eliminate the legacy of military coups and push for military reform so there will be no more coups.

Mr Phumtham said that during the election campaign, Pheu Thai had repeatedly stated its wish to amend the 2017 constitution and reform the military. The party was also ready to nullify orders issued by the National Council for Peace and Order under Section 44 found to be counterproductive and an obstacle to tackling the problems faced by the people,

“The political direction of the FFP and that of Pheu Thai can go together. But in considering or joining hands with any other parties, I have to admit that our party cannot announce it for the time being. Several factors have to be taken into consideration based on the new rules, particularly the voices of the 250 senators and the official results (of the election), which are set for May 9.

"For now, Pheu Thai still has time and is not in a hurry. I have to admit that I have consulted with some parties, but cannot reveal which parties I talked with. The other parties may have to talk with their members,’’ Mr Phumtham said.

Mr Phumtham was adamant that Pheu Thai, which won the most seats in the new House of Representatives with 137 constituency MPs according to unofficial results, had a mandate to form a coalition government, not the party with the most votes overall.

He shrugged off the claim by Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong,  whose party won only 90 seats, that winning the popular vote gave it first right to form a coalition government.

Mr Phumtham stood firm that his party would not work with two parties that back military coups. He did not name the parties.

On the rumour that Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon had called a meeting of key members of some political parties at his residence to discuss the formation of a coalition government with the PPRP, Mr Phumtham said he did not think it was true. Gen Prawit was not part of the political process.

However, if the rumour turned out to be true, it went against the will of the voters and damage might occur.

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