The Pheu Thai Party has brought six more political parties into its alliance to form a coalition government, lifting the total number of House seats in the group to 228.
Key members of Pheu Thai and the six new parties announced their alliance at parliament on Wednesday — 87 days after the May 14 general election. The other parties are: Prachachart (9 House seats), Pheu Thai Ruam Palang (2), Chartpattanakla (2), Seri Ruam Thai (1), Palang Sangkhom Mai (1) and The Thongtee Thai Party (The Party of Thai Counties), which has one MP and was formed by former village chiefs, health volunteers and other civil servants.
Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew said his party had now secured 228 House seats in its bid to form a Pheu Thai-led coalition government. That is still 23 short of the 251 needed for a simple majority in the 500-seat House, and more support is being sought.
Pheu Thai and all its coalition partners were hopeful they could ease political tensions and would seek support from all sides, elected MPs and appointed senators, for its candidate for prime minister, Dr Cholnan said.
Also present at the announcement were Pheu Thai deputy leader Phumtham Wechayachai, Pheu Thai secretary-general Prasert Chantararuangthong, Seri Ram Thai leader Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, Chartpattanakla chairman Suwat Liptapanlop, Prachachart secretary-general Tawee Sodsong and representatives of the other parties.
A party source said Pheu Thai was expected to announce on Thursday that it was also bringing the Chartthaipattana Party, with 10 MPs, into the coalition.
This would lift the number of parties to nine, with a total of 238 seats in the House.
On Monday, the leaders of the Pheu Thai and Bhumjaithai parties announced they would be the core of a bid to form a new coalition government. The two parties have 212 seats in total in the House of Representatives. The six new parties bring another 16 seats.
Pheu Thai came second in the May 14 general election with 141 House seats, followed by Bhumjaithai with 71.
On Aug 2, Pheu Thai dumped the election-winning Move Forward Party (MFP) and pulled out of the agreement signed with the seven other original allies seeking to form a coalition government. The party said it would form its own coalition because the MFP insisted on amending Section 112 of the Criminal code, known as the lese majeste law, which many other MPs and most of the military appointed senators oppose.
Pheu Thai said it would nominate its own candidate for prime minister, Srettha Thavisin.
MFP leader Pita Limjaroenrat failed to win parliament’s backing when nominated for prime minister on July 13.
On Wednesday afternoon, senior Pheu Thai figures including Dr Cholnan and Paetongtarn Shinawatra went to the Move Forward headquarters for talks with leader Pita Limjaroenrat and party executives.
Pheu Thai is hopeful that Move Forward MPs will vote for the new coalition’s prime ministerial candidate even though the party that won the most votes in the election is now almost certain to be in the opposition.
If enough Move Forward MPs vote in support of Mr Srettha, the coalition would not have to rely on support from the unelected Senate, which could prove unpredictable.
Mr Pita was non-committal, saying only that the two parties would continue to have discussions about various issues.
A meeting of Move Forward MPs resolved earlier that each member should seek the views of his or her constituents about whether they believe the party should support the Pheu Thai prime ministerial candidate.