The Move Forward Party (MFP) is ready to work with the Pheu Thai Party after the coming election and has reiterated its determination not to join any coalition government that includes either Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha or Gen Prawit Wongsuwon.
“The MFP is always ready to compete with policies to present the best way out for Thai society,” party leader leader Pita Limjaroenrat said on Saturday while campaigning in Khon Kaen.
“Once the outcome of the election is known, the MFP is ready to work with any (prime ministerial) candidate from Pheu Thai, whoever the person is, to work together at full capacity for the future.
“Today, the two parties are in the opposition bloc. All the opposition parties are like a smooth combination. When brought together, they will be a perfect cabinet to answer Thailand’s new challenges.”
Mr Pita was responding to the recent move by Pheu Thai to appoint an economic panel headed by strategist Prommin Lertsuridej, a former executive of the Thai Rak Thai Party, the original predecessor of Pheu Thai.
The panel also features former deputy prime minister Kittiratt Na Ranong as vice-chairman, property tycoon Srettha Thavisin and economic experts Pansak Vinyaratn, Supavud Saicheua and Panpree Phathithanukorn.
Mr Srettha was recently appointed as chief adviser to Paetongtarn “Ung Ing” Shinawatra, the face of the party and daughter of former premier and Thai Rak Thai founder Thaksin Shinawatra.
Mr Pita was joined in Khon Kaen on Saturday by Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, secretary-general of the Progressive Movement. Their appearance together was meant to be a show of unity a week after a brief but very public feud on social media over political values and strategy.
The pair boarded motorised tricycles and motorbikes to make the rounds campaigning for Veeranan Huadsri, a prospective candidate for Khon Kaen Constituency 1. Both the candidate and the party’s campaign policies and were warmly received by local residents.
The tour followed a major rally held on Friday evening at Ratchadanusorn public park in Muang district of the province. Three core figures of the Progressive Movement — Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Mr Piyabutr and Pannika Wanich — in their capacity as campaign assistants, showed up together on the rally stage for the first time to drum up support. The event, held to introduce all 11 prospective candidates for the province, drew 3,000 people.
Mr Piyabutr expressed confidence that Move Forward would win more seats, citing the results of several opinion polls that showed the party remained popular among voters.
In the previous election, the now-dissolved Future Forward Party (FFP) led by Mr Thanathorn won 81 seats, including in Khon Kaen Constituency 1. While it won just 31 constituency seats nationwide, it finished a surprising third in the popular vote with nearly 6.3 million votes, giving it 50 party-list seats.
In the coming poll that is expected to be held in early May, winning party-list seats could be harder for Move Forward, as a two-ballot system — one for constituency races and one for party lists — will replace the single-ballot system used in 2019.
Mr Piyabutr, a former secretary-general of Future Forward, said political parties may have duplication of political support but the final decision will rest with voters.
Over the past three months, he said, opposition parties have gained popularity in opinion polls. Together they could gain more than 300 seats and if they teamed up, they could form a coalition government.
Mr Pita said Move Forward has set a target to win more constituency MP seats in all regions, and the number of MP seats must be higher than party-list seats. The party also hopes to win a bigger share of the popular vote in the coming election.
Reports continue to circulate that some opposition parties might join a coalition government with the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), led by Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon.
But Mr Pita was adamant that Move Forward would not be one of them.
“We will not join. Any cabinet that has Prayut or Prawit, I and the MFP will not certainly be there,” he said firmly.
The PPRP has named Gen Prawit as its prime ministerial candidate while incumbent Prime Minister Prayut, who joined the recently created United Thai Nation Party, is the prime ministerial candidiate for that party.
Key figures in the Move Forward Party and the Progressive Movement join prospective candidates for Khon Kaen at a rally that drew 3,000 people in Muang district of Khon Kaen on Friday night. (Photo: Chakrapan Natanri)