See More on Facebook

Politics

‘Swing’ bloc holds the key to forming government in Thailand

Anti junta camp remains optimistic; Bhumjaithai says it is yet to decide.


Written by

Updated: May 10, 2019

While the pro-junta camp led by Phalang Pracharat Party appears to have gained the upper hand in the latest MP seat distribution, the rival camp retains a glimmer of hope as long as the “swing” parties remain undecided.

The anti-junta bloc now looks short of MPs required to form a government after its seat count fell from 255 to 245 under the Election Commission (EC)’s controversial party-list calculation method. But pro-democracy figures remain optimistic, as they believe not all the seats from the remaining 20 winning parties will necessarily go to Phalang Pracharat.

Pheu Thai Party secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai yesterday tweeted that the pro-junta camp had only secured 138 seats in the lower house so far against the opposition bloc’s 245 seats.

The undecided faction comprising Democrat, Bhumjaithai, Chartthaipattana and Chartpattana parties now accounted for 116 MPs, he added.

“It’s the Thai people’s duty to press this faction to make a decision,” the anti-junta politician said. “The country is in your hands. Don’t let anyone destroy it.”

The group Phumtham called the undecided faction, however, is viewed as leaning towards the pro-regime camp.

Horse-trading is reportedly taking place with these parties. The Democrats and Bhumjaithai, for instance, are said to have been offered six spots each in the Cabinet.

Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul dismissed the rumours yesterday, writing on Facebook that there had been neither talks on setting up a government nor negotiations over Cabinet seats.

“Bhumjaithai is listening to the voice of the people,” Anutin wrote.

A Democrat Party source also denied having negotiated with the pro-regime bloc, saying talks could be conducted after next Wednesday when the party chooses its new leader.

The identity of the Democrats’ new leader is crucial since rival candidates have different stances on the party’s role in government formation.

Phalang Pracharat leader Uttama Savanayon also admitted yesterday that no agreement had been reached yet over the establishment of the new government. Negotiations were underway, he said.

Though Uttama expressed confidence his block would form the government, he declined to reveal the number of MPs it could assemble amid reports that Democrat and Bhumjaithai had not been satisfied with posts offered.

Sources said it would not be fair for the two parties to get 12 fringe Cabinet seats while Phalang Pracharat, with only 115 MPs, took all the major and economy-related ministries.

Political analyst Anusorn Unno, dean of the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology at Thammasat University, told The Nation yesterday that with the dust still not settled from the election results there were still possibilities for the anti-junta camp to beat its rival to form the government.

“It’s at the negotiation stage right now,” he said. “It is unclear how many or which parties will support the |current regime. They only have three parties now with only some 120 MPs.”

While many doubt that Bhumjaithai would join the anti-junta camp, Anusorn reckons anything is possible since party leader Anutin had said the decision had yet to be made.

Another determining factor – the Democrat Party – is seen as unlikely to join its old foe Pheu Thai in the anti-junta camp. But Anusorn said it won’t be easy for Phalang Pracharat to cut a deal with the Democrats.

“We can see that the Democrats also appear upset with the MP calculation method,” he said. “So, it is unclear whether the party will join Phalang Pracharat.”

With the government formation still shrouded in uncertainty, Anusorn also expressed concern over undemocratic alternatives such as a so-called national unity government or neutral prime minister. “This could lead the [the country] to stagnate again.”

The best way forward, Anusorn suggested, is for the pro-democracy camp to stand by its principles and fight the perceived unfair allocation of MP seats that puts them at a disadvantage.

“They should not let this opportunity slip and allow Phalang Pracharat to form a government in the hope that it will soon collapse and a new election will be held,” Anusorn said. “That would be like letting them violate [democratic] principles from the first.”



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Nation (Thailand)
About the Author: The Nation is a broadsheet, English-language daily newspaper founded in 1971 and published in Bangkok, Thailand.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Politics

Pro-junta bloc says it’s ready to form a government

The group claims deal with Democrats, Bhumjaithai parties. The Pro-Junta Phalang Pracharat Party claimed to have successfully cobbled together a coalition that could form a new government with the participation of the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties, a source from the major coalition partner said yesterday. Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha will again head the post-election administration, with many members of his current post-coup Cabinet joining him, including General Prawit Wongsuwan, General Anupong Paochinda, Somkid Jatusripitak and Wissanu Krea-ngam, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. However, it remained unclear if Prayut would also double as defence minister or allow Prawit to assume the post again in addition to the deputy PM’s post. Phalang Pracharath will get at least 16 Cabinet seats and the Democrats and Bhumjaith


By The Nation (Thailand)
May 20, 2019

Politics

Jakarta on edge ahead of protests against election results

The opposition has yet to yield and admit defeat. Indonesia is on edge following plans by an Islamist group to hold a two-day rally at the elections commission (KPU) on Tuesday (May 21), to protest the impending results of last month’s presidential polls. The call for Muslims to throng the streets around the KPU headquarters in downtown Jakarta has been circulating on social media at the weekend – just before Wednesday’s deadline for the official vote count to be completed. The rally organisers, who identified themselves as Persaudaraan Alumni 212, are calling the mass gathering a “constitutional Jihad”, according to publicity material seen by The Straits Times on Sunday (May 19).


By The Straits Times
May 20, 2019

Politics

Exit polls show Narendra Modi’s coalition set to return to power

Most pre-election surveys had suggested that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi would return to power. Exit polls predicted Prime Minister Narendra Modi will return to power in a landslide win as curtains came down on the largest democratic exercise in the world. Voters in 59 constituencies voted on Sunday (May 19), ending the seven-phase elections in which 900 million people were eligible to vote. At least four exit polls, which were released half an hour after the voting ended, showed between 286 to 306 seats for the alliance led by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). They pr


By The Straits Times
May 20, 2019

Politics

Blip on Modi’s social media, communications radar

Has Modi’s social media policy backfired. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempts to ‘humanise’ himself over the past 10 days or so seem to have boomeranged. At least on social media. For a politician who has championed the use of social media platforms and integrated them into his communications strategy to gain direct access to the people without the “filter” of intermediaries, that’s saying something.  Modi refused to hold even a single Press conference through his five-year tenure as PM and keeping professional media at arm’s length.  But he went on an interview spree in the past fortnight aimed at reaching out to voters in the last two phases of India’s weeks-long general election. Informal, one-on-one interactions with leading television anchors and editors of m


By Ishan Joshi
May 20, 2019

Politics

Philippines government says no cheating in mid-term elections

Duterte’s government says left’s defeat was due to its own shortcomings. The loss of senatorial candidates and party-list groups backed by the Left should be a “wake-up call to re-asses their actions,” Malacañang said Wednesday. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued this statement as he dismissed the claim of Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes that the midterm elections were not that credible due to cheating. “We expect the likes of Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes to cry “cheating” and question the ‘Duterte magic’ following the crushing defeat of many left-leaning party-list groups and their candidate for senator, Mr. Neri Colmenares, in this year’s elections,” Panelo said. In a statement, Reyes said the “Duterte magic” was the “use of government resources to favor administration bets, use of the AFP and PNP to target and harass opposition gr


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
May 16, 2019

Politics

Junta loyalists pack Senate in Thailand

The senate will have a key role to play in choosing the next prime minister. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) took a major step towards retaining power by naming scores of people it patronises and who are loyal to it as constitutionally endorsed senators. Of the 250 names announced yesterday for the junta-picked Senate, 104 were military or police officers –retired and in service – while other figures included former members of junta-appointed bodies who had served the post-coup regime in the past five years. The move marks an about-turn for the junta, which had pledged to stay away from politics and had come to power promising to cleanse the country of corruption and nepotism. In addition to people from the Armed Forces, the senator list also included family members of junta leaders as well as close aides. The list includes General Pree


By The Nation (Thailand)
May 15, 2019