PPRP 'seals deal' to form coalition govt
The political dust has begun to settle with the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) well on its way to leading the next government, joined by the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties, according to military sources.
The bloc will likely garner support from the New Economics Party (NEP) as well, the sources said.
The odds look strongly in the PPRP's favour, the sources added, following two major developments on Thursday.
The first was the resignation of Mingkwan Saengsuwan as NEP leader. His move was widely viewed as paving the way for the party, which previously pledged to forge an alliance with the Pheu Thai-led bloc, to switch sides.
In his resignation letter, Mr Mingkwan wrote that he had completed his tasks as the party leader whose responsibilities only involved drafting economic policies and communicating with the people and mass media.
However, it was widely speculated that Mr Mingkwan decided not to support his party siding with the PPRP because he had already announced he would not support Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha's returning as premier.
The other development was a meeting between Gen Prayut, his deputy Prawit Wongsuwon, Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul and Democrat secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on at a military camp in Bangkok, according to the military sources.
They discussed coming together to set up a government with the PPRP as the main party, the sources said, adding that given the atmosphere of the meeting, the "deal" to form the next government is almost sealed.
Reporters noted that both Gen Prayut and Gen Prawit were a few hours late arriving at Government House on Thursday morning. It has been widely speculated that they had an "engagement" to attend earlier.
The Bhumjaithai and the Democrats this week reportedly forged a pact to increase their bargaining power in forming the governing coalition.
Yutthaporn Isarachai, a political scientist from Sukhothaithammathirat University, said these developments speak volumes about what the new government will look like. He also believed the Democrats and Bhumjaithai will likely have their way.
The Democrats are reportedly seeking the Interior, Commerce and the Energy portfolios while the Bhumjaithai Party is eyeing the Transport, Public Health, and Tourism and Sports ministries. These are seen as A-list ministries.
"From what I can see, everything is falling into place. The PPRP may not get everything it wants so it has to make concessions because its focus is the prime ministerial post.
"Some may see the PPRP-led alliance as having a razor-thin majority, but the party will grab onto the prime ministerial post and the rest can be worked out later," he said.
Mr Yutthaporn said the PPRP-led alliance may even stay in power longer than originally speculated if the Future Forward Party (FFP), which has 80 House seats, is dissolved.
The FFP suffered a major blow on Thursday with its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit was suspended as an MP over the row surrounding his shares in a media company, ahead of the official opening of parliament today.
"The new government shouldn't look that different from what it looks like now. Pheu Thai seems to be throwing in the towel," he said. However, Gen Prawit on Thursday denied he met politicians to discuss forming a government.
On the Democrat front, the party's MPs met on Thursday to outline possible options and consequences and it was thought likely by the sources that they would choose to join the PPRP-led alliance.
"The party would get the chance to implement its policies while preparing for the next round of elections," said the sources.
The source said the party has a set out a list conditions for joining the PPRP-led alliance. These include the right to withdraw from the coalition in the event of corruption being exposed.