Leaving it to the last moment, the Democrats dramatically capitulated and decided to join the pro-junta Palang Pracharat coalition. The move gives the current PM, Palang Pracharat’s sole prime ministerial candidate, an easy walk into the PM job during today’s parliamentary vote.
General Prayut Chan-o-cha and Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit will face off in the 11am vote. Until yesterday’s decision by the Democrats (Bhumjaithai MPs said they would follow in the Democrat’s footsteps), it wasn’t clear exactly what could have happened today. Now, the vote is all but assured for the 65 year old coup leader.
The anti-junta bloc, led by the Pheu Thai party, made its final decision and confirmed yesterday that Thanathorn was eligible to be their prime minister candidate, despite the charter court suspending him from MP duties.
With the support of the Democrat and Bhumjaithai MPs. the pro-junta bloc has secured a majority 254 MPs – they needed 251 for a majority in the lower house.
Democrat Party yesterday decided at the last minute to join the Phalang Pracharat-led coalition. At an intra-party vote, 61 supported joining the coalition while 16 voted against it. Two members abstained from voting and one ballot was voided.
A number of Democrat MPs had been reluctant to vote for Prayut because of his status as a coup leader. Prayut led the coup which toppled an elected government in 2014.
The decision to field Thanathorn against Prayut today encountered some opposition within Pheu Thai. Northeastern MPs of the party believe that Pheu Thai should support its own candidate, especially the party’s de facto leader Khunying Sudarat.
They argued that Sudarat was the reason why Pheu Thai had won the most number of MPs in the March election. She had been highlighted as the party’s face in the election campaign and the MPs did not know how to explain it to the voters if Sudarat did not represent the party in the PM contest, they argued.
It is not even known if Prayut will attend today’s parliamentary session – earlier he said he didn’t wish to make any speech outlining his future vision for Thailand as a prime ministerial candidate saying that everyone knew and understood what he stood for.
Even though the actual vote is all but sorted now expect some fireworks as the session opens for debate. We will have all the latest news out of the new Thai parliament as it happens today on The Thaiger.
SOURCE: The Nation
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