Dems to meet over post claim
Party figures discuss reallocation rumours
All eyes are on the Democrat Party on Monday with a meeting planned which could make or break its coalition deal with the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), in the wake of reports the PPRP wants to reclaim a number of key seats in the cabinet that it had promised to its coalition partners.
The meeting will see the Democrat Party's strategists discuss who among the party's ranks are suited to take up ministerial posts in the next government.
The Democrat MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thepthai Senapong, said on Sunday that key party figures who were involved in coalition talks with the PPRP must inform the meeting of any changes in terms of cabinet seat allocations, as per media reports.
"If there is a reallocation of cabinet posts, the meeting will decide if the changes are acceptable," Mr Thepthai told the Bangkok Post.
"If the meeting finds the changes unacceptable, then those involved in the meeting will have to decide whether to renegotiate with the PPRP, or withdraw from the coalition entirely."
"Ultimately, the matter will be decided in the meeting," said Mr Thepthai.
Previously, the PPRP had agreed to let its coalition partners take up some key ministries in exchange for their support to form a government.
The Democrats had been promised the agriculture, commerce and social development ministries, and the Bhumjaithai Party looked set to secure the Transport Ministry.
However, after Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha secured his second term as premier in last Wednesday's vote in parliament, reports emerged the PPRP's Sam Mitr (Three Allies) group wanted to take back the posts that the party had promised its coalition partners -- spurring reports of a possible redistribution of cabinet posts.
Despite reports the Democrats had been promised control of the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry to push its income guarantee policy for farmers, several media outlets recently reported the Sam Mitr group also has its sights set on taking back the ministry.
Mr Thepthai said the PPRP would be reneging on its promise to the Democrats if it decides to take back the agriculture and commerce portfolios as reported by the media.
"They have to remember that our preconditions for joining the [PPRP-led] coalition are the inclusion of our income guarantee policy for farmers, and amendments to the constitution," he said. "We won't be able to deliver our election pledges unless we have control over those ministries."
Another Democrat source earlier said the PPRP had agreed to hand a deputy prime minister post and three cabinet seats -- agriculture, commerce and social development and human security -- to the party.
The Democrats will also get four deputy minister posts for the education, public health, interior and transport ministries.
However, Democrat deputy leader Nipon Boonyamanee on Sunday maintained the quota of cabinet seats for the Democrats remains unchanged, and that the deal for the party to join the coalition had already been finalised before the prime ministerial vote.
''There will be no more talks and changes. It has been finalised," said Mr Nipon. "I don't know how that rumour came about -- it's the PPRP's problem, and they must sort it out."
Another Democrat source on Sunday said the rumour was merely intended to gauge the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties' reactions.
Somsak Prissananantakul, a former deputy leader of the now-dissolved Chart Thai Party which is now reincarnated as Chartthaipattana, said it is important to wait for official word from the PPRP leader and secretary-general before jumping to any conclusions.
Tawee Suraritthikul, a political science expert at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, said the new government should be formed as quickly as possible after Gen Prayut is royally endorsed as the new prime minister, as to dispel confusion and restore public confidence.
He predicted that even if the PPRP honours the coalition deals with its allies, the multi-party government will be plagued with quarrels among coalition parties.
"This may lead to reshuffles which could see the PPRP take back the agriculture ministry, he said.
Meanwhile, PPRP deputy spokesman, Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana on Sunday traded barbs with Bhumajaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul over the matter.
On Saturday, Mr Anutin wrote on Facebook that: ''Ministries are meant for people to get in and work, not to be swapped around", to which Mr Thanakorn replied: "Ministries are there to work for the people, not for anyone to find work for any company".
However, the animosity between the pair seemed to have died down, as Mr Anutin said on Sunday that the allocation of cabinet posts was finalised a long time ago and insisted there is "no change".