Mingkwan denies rumours about joining PPRP

Mingkwan denies rumours about joining PPRP

Mingkwan Sangsuwan (centre), leader of the New Economics Party, takes a selfie with supporters during a campaign stop in Siam Square in Bangkok on March 3. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Mingkwan Sangsuwan (centre), leader of the New Economics Party, takes a selfie with supporters during a campaign stop in Siam Square in Bangkok on March 3. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

The New Economics Party and a faction of the Democrat Party have denied being in talks to join Palang Pracharath after rumours spread that the pro-regime party has won the support of enough MPs to form the next government.

New Economics leader Mingkwan Sangsuwan posted a party statement on his Facebook page on Saturday afternoon, denying rumours that his party was negotiating with PPRP to form the government.

“There was news I was bargaining for positions. All our prospective MPS and I categorically denied it. I have never been in any talks with Palang Paracharath,” read the statement. 

Early in the morning, Thai media, citing an unnamed PPRP source, reported PPRP might have reached the magic number of seats to form the government.

The reports claimed the latest parties agreeing to join the PPRP coalition were New Economics, with five MPs, and 35 of all 52 MPs of the Democrat Party, who support Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as prime minister.

The new charter allows an MP to vote independently, without having to adhere to his party’s resolution, making it possible for a party to seek support from the MPs of other parties even though their parties are against the idea.

Mr Mingkwan had said earlier his party would only join the pro-democracy coalition. However, he failed to show up when seven parties led by Pheu Thai announced their coalition and only sent words affirming his stand, raising some suspicion about his commitment.

The rumours on Saturday sent social networks into overdrive, with the hashtag #MingkwanLies among the top trending tweets in Thailand.

According to media reports, the PPRP source said his party had earlier secured the support of Bhumjaithai, Chartthaipattana, Action Coalition for Thailand, Chart Pattana, Palang Thong Tin Thai, Rak Puen Pa and the 12 small parties which will get one seat each if the Election Commission (EC) uses a certain party-list calculation method.

The source said Mr Mingkwan viewed joining the PPRP was the only way his party could solve people’s problems and make good on its campaign pledges.

The PPRP source said the negotiations between Mr Mingkwan and deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak were ongoing. 

As for the Democrat Party, the source claimed at least 35 MPs led by Thaworn Senneam had agreed to join the PPRP coalition.

However, Mr Thaworn denied the news in the afternoon, saying he had never spoken for the group of 35 MPs.

“But personally, I support Gen Prayut [Chan-o-cha]. There are two political camps now -- one that supports Thaksin [Shinawatra] and the other which is against him. I have always been with the anti-Thaksin group,” he said.

However, he said he and his group would respect the party’s resolution. “There’s no chance I’ll be a ‘cobra’ although I can’t speak for anyone else,” Mr Thaworn said, referring the term used for politicians who defect to the opposite side.

Based on the party-list calculation method preferred by the EC, the PPRP coalition will have 243 seats if it wins the support of New Economics and some of the Democrats: PPRP (116), Bhumjaithai (51), Democrat (35), Chartthaipattana (10), New Economics (6), Action Coalition for Thailand (5), Chartpattana (3), Palang Thong Tin Thai (3), Rak Puen Pa (2) and 12 small parties (12). 

While 243 is short of a majority of the 500-member House, it beats what the Pheu Thai coalition claimed earlier, which would have been down without New Economics. Besides, the calculation method preferred by the EC will shave eight MPs off Future Forward Party, one of Pheu Thai’s allies, compared to the other formula championed by some academics, including former EC commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn.

The Pheu Thai coalition without New Economics will have 240 seats: Pheu Thai (137), FFP (80), Seri Ruam Thai (10), Prachachart (7), Peau Chat (5) and Palang Puang Chon Thai (1).

A wildcard is therefore the remaining 17 Democrat MPs, who have for now refused to join the PPRP coalition. The possibility of them joining the Pheu Thai coalition is next to nothing but it is possible they are willing to be the opposition whoever forms the government.

The other wildcard is how the party-list MPs will be allocated. The formula floated by the EC and constitution writers will see the Pheu Thai coalition having fewer MPs.  Small parties with some 30,000 votes will get one seat each under this method and many of these parties have already pledged their allegiance to the PPRP.

The other calculation method championed by many academics will result in the Pheu Thai coalition getting more MPs.

The EC submitted a request this week for the Constitutional Court to decide which method it should use.

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