The Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) is likely to join a new coalition led by the Pheu Thai Party, which is seeking to gather the support of at least 300 MPs to ensure a stable new government, according to a Pheu Thai source.
While Pheu Thai can now garner enough support from other parties to form a majority government, it still continues to work on persuading more parties to join to ensure the new government has a combined number of up to 300 MPs.
After the vote for prime minister scheduled for Thursday was delayed, Pheu Thai will now have more time to work on the prospective coalition line-up, the source said.
Currently, parties that have now agreed to join the new coalition include Bhumjaithai, Chartthaipattana, the Democrats, Prachachat and a few micro-parties.
"If the United Thai Nation [UTN] Party and the PPRP are brought into the coalition, the number of MPs will rise to about 300," the source said.
Of the two parties, the PPRP is more likely to join, with talks between the two ongoing following Gen Prawit Wongsuwon's re-election as leader hours after stepping down from the position on July 29.
According to observers, if Pheu Thai includes either or both the PPRP and the UTN, it can expect to face heavy criticism for reneging on its word before the May 14 election that it would not work with the so-called "uncle" parties, referring to those linked with military leaders involved in the 2014 coup.
The "uncles" refer to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the former UTN chief adviser and its prime ministerial candidate, and Gen Prawit, the PPRP leader and its prime ministerial candidate.
The source went on to say that Gen Prawit's re-election as the PPRP leader could be a sign that he might want to establish a minority government with 188 MPs from the parties in the outgoing government and dozens of renegade MPs from rival parties.
"A minority government could be formed if the MFP (Move Forward Party) was disbanded over its policy to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law,'' the source said.
Can't we speak? Move Forward Party MPs react as parliament president Wan Muhamad Noor Matha adjourns Friday's meeting after lawmakers debated why a motion proposed by MFP MP Rangsiman Rome to reconsider the rejected renomination of party leader Pita Limjaroenrat for PM was turned down. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
The Constitutional Court already accepted for deliberation a petition filed by lawyer Theerayut Suwankesorn who claimed the MFP's policy to amend Section 112 breaches Section 49 of the constitution, which prohibits people from using their rights and freedoms to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.
"In this scenario, the 188 MPs would nominate Gen Prawit for a PM vote in parliament with the support from the 250 senators who are close to him and about 30 renegade MPs. Pheu Thai would then be forced into the opposition, along with small parties [while the MFP was disbanded].
"Gen Prawit is still keen to become prime minister. If there is a window of opportunity, he will seize it," the source said.
Meanwhile, deputy Pheu Thai leader Phumtham Wechayachai said on Friday that parties that would join the Pheu Thai led coalition should support its PM candidate, Srettha Thavisin, in the next prime ministerial vote.
"If they disapprove of the PM candidate of Pheu Thai, it will be difficult for us to work together," he said.
He also downplayed talk of the allocation of cabinet seats among prospective coalition allies.
"Only after the new prime minister has been elected will the allocation of cabinet seats be discussed ... It is still not known how many parties and MPs will make up a new coalition," Mr Phumtham said.
However, PPRP secretary-general Capt Thamanat Prompow on Friday dismissed a report that he would lead a group of PPRP MPs to vote for Pheu Thai's PM candidate in a bid to join the Pheu Thai led coalition. He said there had been no approach from Pheu Thai so far.