July 18, 2023
BANGKOK – This comment was seen as an indication of possible changes to the formation of the Move Forward-led coalition.
Phumtham made this comment to reporters ahead of a meeting of the eight prospective coalition partners, which was moved ahead from Tuesday to 5pm on Monday.
Last Thursday, Pita failed to win the 375 votes required for the PM’s post, as only 13 senators had voted for him. Though all 312 MPs of the potential coalition cast their votes in his favour, he still fell short by 50 votes.
As for Pita’s push to get Article 272 amended, Phumtham said that was even tougher than him winning the PM’s post.
The Constitution’s Article 272 requires that in the first five years of the charter’s enactment, the prime minister must be elected with a simple majority in a joint Parliament sitting.
To be elected as PM, Pita needs 64 votes from senators, but to amend the charter, the bloc would require up to 84 votes from senators as MPs outside the bloc would definitely not support it, Phumtham said.
He also pointed out that Pita had earlier assured other partners that he would win enough votes from senators when in reality he only managed 13.
During the meeting on Monday, he said Pita will have to convince other partners how he expects to win the required votes, or it will be a waste of time to nominate him again for the second round of voting scheduled for Wednesday.
Phumtham added that Pita should give priority to the public interest as the voting cannot go on forever, or else General Prayut Chan-o-cha will remain the acting prime minister and the country’s economy will continue getting damaged.
He added that Pita’s proposal to get Article 272 amended is like tying Pheu Thai to an impossible mission.
“It sounds good, but it’s far more difficult to achieve as there is no specific timeframe for the amendment,” Phumtham said.
He also said Pita should not have held the public and the country hostage by saying Move Forward’s future lies in people’s hands.
“Instead, he should have said the country and the people’s future is in the hands of Move Forward and Pita,” he said.
Phumtham added that Pita should also consider what would happen if he were renominated and senators again rejected his candidacy. He said Pheu Thai has three qualified candidates ready to be nominated if Move Forward realises that Pita has no chance of winning and steps aside voluntarily.
If not, he said, Pheu Thai will still support Pita in the second round of voting.