PPRP dangles cabinet posts

PPRP dangles cabinet posts

Democrats to decide on coalition today

Executives of Palang Pracharath and Bhumjaithai parties are posing for photos hand in hand at the Bhumjaithai head office in Bangkok on Monday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Executives of Palang Pracharath and Bhumjaithai parties are posing for photos hand in hand at the Bhumjaithai head office in Bangkok on Monday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

With negotiations to forge a coalition government ongoing, the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) spelled out on Monday which cabinet portfolios the mid-sized Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties would be offered if they were to join its ranks, according to political sources.

The Bhumjaithai Party has already pledged allegiance to the pro-regime coalition that wants to reinstall incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as premier while the Democrat Party are still officially sitting on the fence.

The sources said the PPRP has promised them both many cabinet portfolios they are keen on in a bid to secure their loyalty, which would give them a numerical advantage over a rival coalition.

While details about the allocation of ministerial positions have yet to be fleshed out, the Democrats have reportedly secured the Agriculture Ministry, Commerce Ministry, and Social Development and Human Security Ministry.

Meanwhile, Bhumjaithai is expected to take the helm at the Public Health Ministry, Sports and Tourism Ministry, and Transport Ministry.

Democrat leader Jurin Laksanavisit is tipped to double as a deputy prime minister and commerce minister, whereas party secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on is likely to take charge of the Agriculture Ministry.

Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul would serve as another deputy prime minister and public health minister while party secretary-general Saksayam Chidchob was named by the sources as the man who would assume control of the Transport Ministry.

Natee Ratchakitprakarn, a list MP and former senator for Phatthalung province, is seen as a dark horse candidate to oversee the Sports and Tourism Ministry courtesy of the role she played in the party's election success in the South.

Both parties have been offered four cabinet seats apiece, including the role of deputy prime minister and three deputy ministerial positions each, according to the sources.

Speculation about the three parties' sharing of cabinet seats has intensified after the PPRP heavyweights on Monday formally extended an invitation to the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties to join its alliance.

The move follows what is seen as a test of support at the weekend when Democrat Chuan Leekpai was chosen as the House speaker, while the PPRP's Suchart Tancharoen and Bhumjaithai's Supachai Phosu were named his deputies, ahead of the prime ministerial vote later this month.

Party representatives said on Monday the coalition talks looked promising but insisted nothing had been finalised.

Speaking after welcoming PPRP representatives to the Democrats' office, Mr Chalermchai said the talks had gone well and the party was initially focusing on its policies and constitutional amendments.

"There will be another round of talks. The party has certain steps to follow before it can give a formal answer. We won't rush things but we won't go slowly, either," he said.

Mr Anutin said on Monday the party had accepted the PPRP's invitation to join, and that the PPRP had been informed of what conditions would need to be met, including that the coalition must not be a minority government and the party's policies must be adopted.

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