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Election

Election: The problems ahead, Tuesday

Tim Newton

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Election: The problems ahead, Tuesday | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The political dance of horse-trading begins. Prayut Chan-o-cha in campaign mode

And so we awake on the second day since the election. With 95% of votes counted we’re in firm territory now as far as voting trends are concerned . So we can start guessing which way the new parliament might be formed. Here are the main issues for Tuesday.

The missing NZ ballots

The Election Commission will meet today to decide what to do with the ‘invalid’ ballots delivered late to polling booths. In one example, the Thai Embassy in New Zealand and Thai Airways have both defended their situation saying they did everything correctly by getting the votes sorted and delivered in time. Whether the votes are included or not will come down to decision from the Election Commission. The bottomline, the votes won’t change the big picture although we are sure the expats voting in New Zealand would like their votes to be counted.

The Election Commission

The body tasked with running the election, counting and collating the votes have come under attack from all sides. From minor lapses in security, a few poorly handled situations in booths to some more major accusations that are currently being investigated by police. The overseas observers have not been particularly impressed by the EC’s performance either citing a number of small issues at booths around the country.

But the EC’s biggest battles are yet to come as they will be forced to adjudicate on who has the right to form a coalition. Both Pheu Thai and Palang Pracharat maintain they have the ‘right’ to form a lower house government. Just imagine all the late night phone calls criss-crossing the country at the moment?!

We won’t even get started on the petition to oust the Election Commission which has already gained over 600,000 signatures.

The coalition

No one party will have an outright majority to form a government. Both Palang Pracharat and Pheu Thai will have to do deal with ‘hostiles’ in order to make up the numbers to form a lower house government. There are very few combinations of parties coming together where a LOT of distance will have to be covered to merge their competing policy differences.

Future Forward, the party with the third highest total seats, has little common ground with Pheu Thai, apart from wanting to rid the country of the military government. They’re even further, terminally separated really, from Palang Pracharat.

Future Forward has laid down three conditions for a coalition, based on its campaign pledges – to rewrite the constitution, eliminate the legacy of military coups and push for military reform so coups won’t happen again. Their 80+ votes would push Pheu Thai into an extremely strong position to form a government.

But the Democrats and BumJaiThai are likely more accommodating to negotiation, although seeing the Democrats side with Pheu Thai, once mortal political enemies, would be a long-shot. It’s more likely the Democrats would, if pushed, side with Palang Pracharat with their 53 lower house seats.

BumJaiThai is more complex to predict which way they will side. Their 51 or so seats will be a powerful swing, whichever way they go.

The other smaller parties, together, add up to a crucial buffer for one party or the other.

Most likely scenario

Casting our eyes into the political crystal ball (always dangerous in Thai politics), The Thaiger thinks that the Pheu Thai party is the more likely to be able to form a government – either with a decent majority (with BumJaiThai giving them their votes) or with the merest of slim majorities if BJT side with Palang Pracharat. Either way Pheu Thai are going to have to let some of their power slip to accommodate the other parties. And you can be assured that Thaksin is sitting comfortably, still in exile, crunching numbers and overseeing the discussions.

Even if this happens, the pro-military Senators may ignore the lower house mandate (if Pheu Thai pull it together) and side with Palang Pracharat to install Prayut as the PM of a new minority Government.

This would be highly unstable with almost all legislation being voted down in the lower house and needing both houses to sit to pass any new legislation. It wouldn’t be pretty.

The Thai elephant in the room

The Election Commission announced yesterday that they wouldn’t announce the official results of the election until… are you ready… May 9! That’s after the coronation of HM The King.

Whether parties can legally negotiate until the official results of the March 24 have been announced is a moot point – they already have.

The Coronation will therefore take place with a caretaker government and that point hasn’t even come up for discussion yet.

Thai elephant in the room II

Thaksin Shinawatra would be disappointed that his Pheu Thai government didn’t poll better but he’s already stated the bleeding obvious; that the system was specifically rigged to lessen the chances of yet another Pheu Thai victory. Despite living in exile, his political cunning will be felt in the coming weeks as he cobbles together a Pheu Thai coalition with other parties.

 

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 360 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now CEO and writer for The Thaiger - Website, Radio, TV, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He presented for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and provides stories for Feature Story News as the south east Asian correspondent.

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Election

Palang Pracharat are warned not to renege on Thai ministry promises

The Thaiger

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Palang Pracharat are warned not to renege on Thai ministry promises | The Thaiger

Amidst rumours circulating that the Palang Pracharat Party may renege on some of the promises it made to secure MP votes from the Democrats and Bhumjaithai, the Democrat party leader Jurin Laksanavisit says he believes the Palang Pracharat party will keep its promises.

Thepthai Senpong MP, a key Democrat party member, is warning that the coalition government will be in big trouble if the promise is broken. He says the coalition government would “function with great difficulty” if the Palang Pracharat party does not stick to the promises it made to the Democrats, according to Thai PBS.

Meanwhile, Somsak Thepsutin, one of the Sam Mitr faction within Palang Pracharat, says that if one of their group isn’t offered the agriculture minister’s post (reportedly offered to the Democrats as part of the ‘deal’), the promises they made with Thai voters during the election campaign could be affected.

Somsak has already spoken of his aspirations to become the next agriculture minister, despite the portfolio being used as a political football during negotiations with the Democrats.

But the new leader of the Democrats, Jurin Laksanavisit insists that the issue of the quota of ministries for his MPs has already been settled. He re-iterated yesterday that Palang Pracharat would not go back on its promises to the Democrats. He added that he had not been informed of any changes to their arrangements despite being aware of the media reports about the prevarication.

SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Nation

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Election

Palang Pracharat still quibbling over portfolios in the new Thai parliament

The Thaiger

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Palang Pracharat still quibbling over portfolios in the new Thai parliament | The Thaiger

Election – check. Vote for PM – check. New government sworn in – not quite yet.

There is still a reported back-room fight over cabinet portfolios between factions in the Palang Pracharat Party. Several key ministries were offered to Bhumjaithai and Democrat MPs in return for voting for Prayut Chan-o-cha as PM on Wednesday.

Now that Prayut’s been installed back behind the big desk at government house, there have been sources reporting wrangling and possible back-tracking over the promises made preceding the parliamentary vote on Wednesday.

  • The Democrats were promised the agriculture, commerce and social development ministries while the Bhumjaithai were reportedly offered the Transport Ministry post.
  • Palang Pracharat MPs claim that, as the leading party in the coalition, it should control key ministries to follow through on its election promises.
  • PPRP list MP Somsak Thepsuthin, a leading figure of the “Sam Mitr” faction in Palang Pracharat, claims the party needs control of the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry and that PM Prayut will have a final say on the matter (a notion that was flatly denied by the PPRP last week).
  • Palang Pracharat MP Buddhipongse Punnakanta admits the quota of cabinet posts for coalition parties “might” change but didn’t detail any of the Cabinet position affected, including the position of agriculture minister.
  • Newly elected House Speaker Chuan Leekpai, a former Democrat PM, waded into the issue yesterday saying he was sure that Palang Pracharat would honour the promises made in regards to Cabinet posts offered to the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties.
  • Democrat leader Jurin Laksanavisit says the deal with the PPRP was singed and sealed and believes it would be honoured.
  • Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charvirakul says the agreement with the PPRP remains unchanged, and insisted the party will push for its election pledges to be implemented.
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Election

“We were robbed of victory” – Future Forward’s Thanathorn

The Thaiger

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“We were robbed of victory” – Future Forward’s Thanathorn | The Thaiger

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the 40 year old Future Forward leader who was up against Prayut Chan-o-cha for the position of PM yesterday, says that the pro-democracy alliance hasn’t conceded defeat but, he says, were “robbed of their victory”.

He is vowing to work harder outside parliament to prove that to the people.

“This election is just one battle in the long journey to achieve democracy. We fiercely believe that, in the end, our day will come. Dictatorship cannot resist the winds of change, the winds of democracy. The people will cry for freedom, cry for justice.”

Thanathorn was nominated by the Pheu Thai-led alliance as their sole PM candidate for yesterday’s vote, admitted that he had little hope that both the Democrat and the Bhumjaithai parties would make the “right decision”. Without their vote the Pheu Thai alliance wouldn’t have a majority in the lower house to make a stand (even though the Senate’s votes – 250 – would have carried Prayut Chan-o-cha over the finish line anyway). As it was he only missed winning the vote in the lower house by a handful of votes.

Thai PBS reports that, despite the election defeat, the firebrand young politician pleaded with all democracy advocates not to lose hope, but to move forward with him.

“I would like to tell my brothers and sisters that this is not our end, it is just the beginning,” he said, adding that the election result was a proof that they did not work hard enough and must strive harder.

“Future Forward party would divide its work and resources into three main areas; its MPs will undertake legislative work and check the performance of the government, the party will prepare for the forthcoming local elections and strengthen the party.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS

“We were robbed of victory” - Future Forward's Thanathorn | News by The Thaiger

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