All 40 MPs from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) will vote for the Pheu Thai prime ministerial candidate unconditionally because the country urgently needs to have a government, says a party MP.
Pai Leeke, a Palang Pracharath MP for Kamphaeng Phet, said on Thursday that the party had not been formally approached by Pheu Thai since key figures of the two parties met at Pheu Thai headquarters on July 23.
Pheu Thai was given the chance to form a government, with the blessing of the election-winning Move Forward Party (MFP), after the latter conceded it could not win enough support in parliament for its leader, Pita Limjaroenrat.
Pheu Thai, which came second in the May 14 election, later dumped Move Forward and moved to form its own coalition. It said that all the parties it spoke with had identified Move Forward’s insistence on amending the lese-majeste law as a major obstacle.
Mr Pai said PPRP members had discussed the situation and concluded that it was necessary for the country to have a government as many problems need to be urgently tackled.
The country has gone nearly five months since the dissolution of the House on March 20 with a caretaker government that has limited authority under the constitution.
The 2024 fiscal year starts on Oct 1 but there is no budget in place, which is beginning to cause deep concern among business leaders and investors.
“We had discussed with Pheu Thai (during the previous meeting) about policies that we wanted to jointly push for them such as Sor Por Kor land reform, the drought problem, an increase in the elderly allowance and the continuity of Pracharat welfare cards,” said Mr Pai.
“All (policies) received a positive response. More importantly, we used to work with Pheu Thai. I also came from Pheu Thai.
“Therefore, the party agreed that all of its 40 MPs will vote for a prime ministerial candidate from Pheu Thai.”
The PPRP is willing to help the country sail through the political crisis, said Mr Pai.
However, there have been no talks about joining a coalition government led by Pheu Thai, he added.
As of Thursday, the Pheu Thai-led coalition had a total of 238 MPs. The votes of the PPRP would bring the total to 278, meaning it would still need the support of 97 senators in a vote for the Pheu Thai prime ministerial candidate. Move Forward, now headed for the opposition benches, is still deciding whether to vote for the Pheu Thai prime ministerial candidate but most of its supporters oppose the idea.
Political commentators say that bringing the military-linked PPRP into the coalition would be seen by many Pheu Thai supporters as a betrayal and cost the party dearly at the next election.
Palang Pracharath was established in 2019 as a vehicle for Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the 2014 coup leader, and Gen Prawit Wongsuwon to remain in power. The majority of its original members were defectors from the Pheu Thai Party. Gen Prawit is the current leader of the PPRP.
Though it finished second to Pheu Thai in the 2019 polls, the PPRP ultimately prevailed as the lead party in the coalition government. Over time, however, factional squabbling intensified and many MPs left the party. It won 40 seats in the May election, down from 116 in 2019.
Mr Pai also claimed on Thursday that he had been contacted by Move Forward, when it was still putting together its coalition, to vote for its prime ministerial candidate.
But MFP secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon hit back at Mr Pai’s claims, saying his party had never held talks with the PPRP to seek its support for anything.
“The MFP has never thought of taking part in anything with the PPRP, which was a mechanism set up to prolong the power of the coup-makers,” said Mr Chaithawat.
Move Forward has a clear stance that it would not join any government with the PPRP and/or the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party and its stance has never changed, added the MFP secretary-general.