The Move Forward Party (MFP) has expressed confidence its leader Pita Limjaroenrat will receive enough support from senators to become the new prime minister in the crucial vote next Thursday.
MFP secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon on Friday brushed aside remarks by some senators that they would not vote for Mr Pita as they are concerned about his party's policies, especially the planned amendment of the lese majeste law.
Some senators who had previously pledged to vote for him have apparently had a change of heart due to the party's stance on changing Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law. The MFP has vowed to press for an amendment.
In response, Mr Chaithawat on Friday said: "These are only the opinions of some senators, but most of the senators have not yet expressed their view on the matter."
He also expressed confidence that the talks between the MFP and senators will deliver a positive outcome, as most senators would want to give the country an opportunity to move forward.
The 250 appointed senators are allowed by the constitution to participate in the vote, along with the 500 elected members of the House of Representatives.
Under the constitution, a PM candidate would need the support of at least half of the 750 members of both the lower and upper chambers of parliament, or 376 votes in total.
We may celebrate (Mr Pita's election as PM) on the evening of July 13 - Chaithawat Tulathon, MFP secretary-general.
The eight coalition parties are said to have secured 312 votes in support of Mr Pita and now need 64 more votes from senators or other MPs to reach that threshold.
Asked if the MFP would back down from its bid to amend Section 112, Mr Chaithawat said that the party could allay the senators' concerns.
He also said he would ask House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha if it would be possible for a PM candidate to outline his vision before the vote in parliament and whether members of parliament should also be allowed to quiz the candidate before making their decision.
Asked to comment on what would happen if Mr Pita fails to win in the first round of voting on July 13, Mr Chaithawat said that in that case, the MFP would nominate him again for another vote on July 19.
House Speaker Wan previously said that if Mr Pita fails to secure the votes required to become Thailand's next prime minister in the House session set for next Thursday, then a second round of voting is likely to be held on July 19.
However, Mr Chaithawat said he believed Mr Pita would win in the first round and emerge as the new prime minister.
"We may celebrate [Mr Pita's election as a new PM] on the evening of July 13," Mr Chaithawat said.
"But if the voting for a new premier drags on for several rounds, then the formation of a new government would also be delayed.
"This may also affect deliberations on the 2024 fiscal budget as well as the economy. Investors will have to suspend investment as they have to assess the situation.
"The faster everything is completed, the better, so Thai politics will stabilise," Mr Chaithawat said.
Asked if the MFP would support a PM candidate from Pheu Thai if Mr Pita fails, Mr Chaithawat insisted that Mr Pita is the only PM candidate nominated by the eight coalition parties.
The MFP's deputy leader, Sirikanya Tansakun, on Friday claimed that the party had won over enough senators to back Mr Pita's bid to become prime minister.
"But we must also have a contingency plan in case some senators may have a change of heart. No one knows what will happen on the day of voting," she said.
Deputy Pheu Thai leader Phumtham Wechayachai said on Firday that the eight coalition parties would stick together and support Mr Pita to become the next prime minister.
Meanwhile, Senator Prapasri Suchantabutr insisted on Friday that she would vote for Mr Pita to be the next prime minister because his party had received the most votes in the May 14 election.