August 23, 2023
BANGKOK – Pheu Thai’s candidate Srettha Thavisin was named Thailand’s 30th prime minister on Tuesday, effectively bringing the nearly 100-day political deadlock to an end.
After hours of debate, the former real-estate tycoon received 482 votes in the joint parliamentary sitting on Tuesday, far higher than the required 374 votes. Against votes stood at 165, while 81 parliamentarians abstained and 19 were absent.
Srettha was also successful in winning votes from as many as 152 senators, while most of those who voted against him were Move Forward MPs.
The meeting to pick the country’s new PM began at about 10am, with House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha rejecting an urgent motion put forward by Move Forward to review the rejection of Pita Limjaroenrat’s nomination.
The refusal prompted Move Forward MP Teerajchai Phunthumas to say that the speaker is not impartial in his duties.
Wan Muhamad responded angrily, saying he was neutral and had no intentions of obstructing Move Forward while carrying out his duties lawfully. The motion was then withdrawn.
Later, Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew proposed Srettha as the sole PM candidate for the coalition, comprising 11 parties. Together the coalition holds a majority in the Lower House with 314 seats.
The meeting continued with lawmakers from both Houses debating on the coalition’s policies.
Most senators voiced concerns about the Pheu Thai-led coalition’s intention to amend the current Constitution.
Senator Somjet Boonthanom said the implemented charter had been approved by a public referendum, adding that there may be a hidden agenda behind this intention.
He added that the 2017 charter had been drawn up to combat political corruption by its legal provisions, such as not having an expiry date for cases related to political fraud. This charter also gives more power to senators and independent government agencies, he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Monthien Boontan warned that charter amendments may spark disputes in society because not everybody can agree with the changes.
Senator Wanchai Sornsiri, however, said the Pheu Thai-led coalition may end the long-standing conflict in Thai society as it encompasses every political side.
Both Monthien and Wanchai voted for Srettha, saying they want Thailand to move forward. Senator Somjet, however, did not.
At the end of the meeting, Cholnan said all questions will be answered in Parliament once the new government presents its policies before taking office.
He also said that Pheu Thai was wrong to have joined hands with election winner Move Forward initially.
The next government will require a royal endorsement before forming the next Cabinet.