The Pheu Thai Party is cobbling together a 302-seat government without the Move Forward Party (MFP) and will nominate property tycoon Srettha Thavisin as prime minister in the next round of voting scheduled for this Friday, according to sources.
The Pheu Thai-led coalition comprises 10 parties that include five new partners -- Bhumjaithai, the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), the Democrat Party, the Chartthaipattana Party and the Chartpattanakla Party, the sources said. The four others are Prachachat, Pheu Thai Ruam Palang, Seri Ruam Thai and Plung Sungkom Mai, part of the eight-party bloc formed shortly after the May 14 general election.
MFP heavyweights are reportedly against this development, and the party does not have to vote for the Pheu Thai's prime minister candidate if it is pushed into the opposition, according to the sources.
The MFP also believes if Pheu Thai decides to bring in any of the "uncle" parties, the party should deal with the consequences of its decision, said the sources. The uncles are referred to the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as its prime ministerial candidate and the PPRP led by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon.
According to the sources, Pheu Thai has reached deals with the PPRP and the Democrat Party in which the two parties will get five and three cabinet seats each.
Gen Prawit will not take a cabinet seat, but his younger brother and former national police chief, Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwon, will be part of the cabinet. Pol Gen Patcharawat, who is known to have ties with Pheu Thai, was appointed as the PPRP's chief adviser last weekend in what is widely seen as a move to pave the way for the PPRP to join the Pheu Thai-led government.
The PPRP's new secretary-general Capt Thamanat Prompow, deputy leader Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn and MP for Kamphaeng Phet Pai Lik are tipped to be part of the cabinet.
Democrat MP for Songkhla Dech-it Khaothong is tipped to be a deputy prime minister and agriculture minister, and Democrat MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat Chaichana Dejdecho is expected to become a deputy interior minister. Mr Dech-it assured Pheu Thai that his group has the support of 19 MPs and expressed confidence that the new party leadership would not oppose the move, according to the sources. The Democrats are scheduled to select a new leader and executive board on Aug 6, with Narapat Kaewthong speculated to become the new leader.
According to the sources, the UTN has not been approached to join the bloc to avoid strong resistance from Pheu Thai supporters and its current partners -- the Thai Sang Thai Party and Fair Party.
"This formula is hoped to bring the Senate to vote for the Pheu Thai candidate," said one of the sources.
If Pheu Thai succeeds, the opposition camp will have 198 seats.
Pheu Thai deputy leader Phumtham Wechayachai said on Monday the eight-party coalition partners will tentatively meet on Wednesday to review talks that his party has had with those outside the bloc and senators. He said those MPs and senators have so far remained firm that they will vote for the Pheu Thai prime minister candidate only if the MFP is excluded from the coalition.
"That's what we have and will bring to the meeting before the party MPs meet on Aug 3," he said.
Pheu Thai list-MP Noppadon Pattama said the country could not wait 10 months for the military-appointed Senate to expire and select the prime minister as suggested by some.
According to Mr Noppadon, the party is expected to nominate Mr Srettha for the prime minister's post, and it is likely to inform its MPs of its decision on Thursday.
Meanwhile, parliament president Wan Muhamad Noor Matha said the agenda for Friday's meeting remains unchanged, with the prime minister selection being the first item on the agenda and the proposed amendment of Section 272 to follow.
If the prime ministerial vote cannot proceed, the parliament meeting will consider the proposed charter amendment seeking to remove the senate's power to co-select the premier, he added.
The Constitutional Court will meet on Thursday to decide if it will accept a petition involving the prime minister's selection. The court's decision will decide if the prime minister's vote on the next day will proceed or be put on hold.