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Election

Tough times ahead for next Thai government after hard fought weekend votes

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Tough times ahead for next Thai government after hard fought weekend votes | The Thaiger

It took most of two days for the new parliament to elect a House Speaker and two deputies. All votes, after much prevarication, won by slender margins. The Palang Pracharat Party is emerging as the party with the numbers but there are tough times ahead for any government as the votes have not been falling uniformly and the ‘swing’ parties – Democrats and BumjaiThai – are yet to throw their weight formally behind any of the main blocs.

The vote for speaker showed that Phalang Pracharat had won over the key undecided parties – Democrat and Bhumjaithai – for these votes anyway, and was poised to lead the coalition.

The next administration, which would need maximum votes in the lower house to progress policy, will face hurdles at every step. There is no guarantee that the swing parties will support Palang Pracharat on every issue, in fact, it’s unlikely.

Though the lower house speaker and deputy speaker positions went to Phalang Pracharat-backed figures, giving it the upper hand in Parliament, the wins were narrow and indicated possible future swings.

Democrat Chuan Leekpai triumphed over Pheu Thai candidate Sompong Amornvivat by 23 votes (258-235). The figure suggests some defections in the anti-junta bloc.

But in the vote for the position of first deputy speaker, veteran politician Suchart Tancharoen defeated first-time MP Yaowalak Wongpraparat from the fledgling Future Forward Party by just two votes (248-246).  That’s a significant result for a new party and their first foray into Thai parliamentary politics.

A Future Forward MP has also won the bi-election held over the weekend in Chiang Mai, giving them one more PM vote in the lower house.

The second deputy speaker’s post went to Supachai Phosu, who secured 256 votes against 239 for Seri Ruamthai candidate Prasong Buranapong. In such a tight situation, smaller parties that would back the Phalang Pracharat-led coalition are seen to have a significant leverage over the pro-junta party.

The Democrats and Bhumjaithai, who together have 103 MPs, look likely to gain a fair share of Cabinet portfolios.

The hiccups in the vote for speaker on Saturday could portend Phalang Pracharat’s fate in the lower house.

Suchart reportedly was to run for speaker, but Phalang Pracharat had to nominate Chuan at the last minute, leading to some discontent among pro-junta MPs.

Apparently, in a struggle to overcome internal disagreement, the pro-junta bloc motioned for postponement of the speaker’s election but failed when some pro-Suchart MPs voted against the move.

Aside from such internal challenges, it was also observed that the pro-junta camp would face strong opposition from Pheu Thai and Future Forward.

The elections of all speakers was expected to be completed in a single day, but the process dragged out to two full days, partly because the rival blocs locked horns and neither was prepared to give way.

The ‘caretaker’ speaker Chai Chidchob had to adjourn the meeting a couple of times when they refused to back down. Starting from when Phalang Pracharat attempted to postpone the election of the house speaker on Saturday, the two blocs debated for nearly two hours before Chai called a break.

Phalang Pracharat finally gave in and agreed that the chamber could vote to decide whether or not to defer the election.

The election on Saturday took more than eight hours and two other motions to elect the first and second deputy speakers were put off to yesterday.

Yesterday morning, Future Forward motioned for the candidates to give a “vision speech” before the vote, seeking to establish the credentials of its candidate, Yaowalak. But Chai, a highly experienced house speaker aligned with Phalang Pracharat, abruptly dismissed the proposal after the heated |atmosphere showed signs of worsening.

More wrangling followed, especially during the vote to choose the second deputy speaker. Pheu Thai MPs led by Cholnan Srikaew protested over ballots that bore an erroneous surname for the candidate. They also asked Chai to stop the referee from recording the vote count on video.

The MPs said the manner of the recording was suspicious and questioned whether the ballots had been marked to indicate the identities of the voters in order to secure “rewards” later on.

Chai disagreed with both motions despite heated debate and ordered the process to continue.

The elections yesterday also took more than eight hours.

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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