July 24, 2023
BANGKOK – This became clear after Chart Thai Pattana Party announced on Sunday that it will not work in a coalition that includes Move Forward.
Move Forward Party won by a majority in the May 14 elections and has 151 MP seats, followed by Pheu Thai (141).
Top Pheu Thai execs met their Chart Thai Pattana counterparts on Sunday. After the meeting Chart Thai Pattana leader Varawut Silpa-archa announced his party would not work with anyone planning to touch Article 112 of the Penal Code or the lese majeste law.
Varawut was clearly referring to Move Forward without mentioning it by name.
Move Forward has stuck by its election promise to amend Article 112, so it can no longer be used as a political tool. However, the party’s repeated announcements have infuriated the conservative camp, especially senators who believe Move Forward is taking a stand against the monarchy.
At a joint press conference on Sunday afternoon, Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew thanked Varawut for agreeing to meet, saying his party needs all the support it can get to meet the PM’s post at the joint parliamentary vote on Thursday.
Cholnan told the press that Chart Thai Pattana had not been invited to join the Pheu Thai-led coalition but to just support it on Thursday. He added that Pheu Thai had been given the job of lobbying senators and parties outside the bloc for support. The alliance is especially eyeing parties that were partners of the exiting Palang Pracharath-led coalition.
Varawut, however, declared at the press conference that his party will not work with anybody who wants to touch the lese majeste law or Article 112.
“We won’t touch Article 112. This has been our stance from the beginning. We will work with any party that has a policy that cherishes the monarchy, but will keep away from any party that does not support our stand,” Varawut said.
“We are ready to support Pheu Thai’s PM candidate, but if there is a party with a different stance [in the coalition], we will keep away.”
Pheu Thai was handed the baton to lead the coalition after Move Forward failed to get its leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, elected as prime minister.
The bloc had 312 MPs, but on July 13, Pita failed to win 63 extra votes from senators or MPs outside the bloc to make the 375 votes required to win the PM’s seat.
Then last week, Move Forward was blocked from renominating Pita after senators and MPs of former coalition partners joined forces to vote that it would violate a parliamentary meeting regulation to nominate Pita twice in the same parliamentary session. Pita was also suspended as MP last week, bringing the number of MPs in the eight-party bloc down to 311.
On Saturday, Cholnan also met the leaders of Bhumjaithai, Chart Pattana Kla and United Thai Nation parties to reportedly invite them to join the Pheu Thai-led coalition.
Again the three parties insisted they would not join the coalition as long as Move Forward stays because they will not accept any changes to the lese majeste law.
Pheu Thai is scheduled to meet Palang Prachachart Party on Sunday evening, and the response is expected to be the same.
Pheu Thai is scheduled to meet on Monday to compile and analyse the results of the meetings with parties outside the bloc.
Observers believe Pheu Thai may decide to remove Move Forward from the alliance and bring in Palang Pracharath, the Chart Thai Pattana, United Thai Nation and other parties instead.
They also believe this combination will ensure Pheu Thai wins enough votes for its PM candidate, as most senators have insisted they would not vote for Pheu Thai’s candidate if Move Forward stays.