Move Forward rallying senators to back coalition

Move Forward rallying senators to back coalition

Senator says 50 independents representing professions being lobbied, and 112 is an issue

Photo: Parliament
Photo: Parliament

The Move Forward Party (MFP) has expressed confidence in its effort to persuade more senators to support its leadership of a coalition government and name its leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, as the new prime minister.

Senator Songdet Samerkham responded on Saturday to claims that politicians were working to win over the 50 independent senators representing various professions so that they would support Mr Pita’s bid for prime minister. He confirmed he had been contacted by politicians to discuss the matter.

Mr Songdet said he was ready to support the party with a majority in the House of Representatives but was not aware of his peers’ opinions.

“All senators agree that Section 112 (the lese-majeste law) should be off-limits to either cancellation or revision, and we believe the existing law is appropriate,” he said.

“If Move Forward clearly states that it will not meddle with Section 112, I am confident many senators will back the party. We will have to see what’s inside their memorandum of understanding on May 22 in this regard.”

The Move Forward-led coalition — now back down to eight parties after some drama on Friday and Saturday — is scheduled to gather on Monday to reveal the details of the agreement the parties have been negotiating. 

Move Forward wants to reduce the penalties in Section 112 and stipulate that only the Bureau of the Royal Household can file complaints. Deputy leader Sirikanya Tansakun indicated on Friday that if all participants don’t agree with her party on Section 112, it won’t be in the MoU. In that case, she said, Move Forward would submit a bill on its own to amend the law.

There have been reports that about 20 senators so far are considering backing the MFP leader. Mr Songdet said he believed there could be more but noted that gathering support for a premiership bid requires diplomacy and a friendly approach.

MFP secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon said on Saturday that having 313 representatives in the lower House would ensure the party’s ability to establish an administration. However, it will continue to speak with senators and seek mutual understanding in the interest of national progress.

He said that most senators he had spoken with had expressed concerns about the incoming government’s foreign policy and maintaining Thailand’s standing on the world stage, along with continued political conflict.

“The Senate is set to hold a gathering on May 23, and I have heard that they will engage in an informal meeting afterward to discuss their vote on the prime minister,” said Mr Chaithawat.

“I believe that once they see our memorandum on May 22, they will understand our intention, and it will lead to a positive decision that drives the nation forward.”

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