Opposition alliance stakes claim on Thai govt

The seven-party pro-democracy Thai coalition led by Pheu Thai Party called for a press conference yesterday to announce their intention to form the government, claiming that they have won a majority of Lower House seats in Sunday's general election.
The seven-party pro-democracy Thai coalition led by Pheu Thai Party called for a press conference yesterday to announce their intention to form the government, claiming that they have won a majority of Lower House seats in Sunday's general election.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

But rival Palang Pracharath Party dismisses declaration and nominates junta chief for PM

Thailand's Pheu Thai Party announced yesterday a seven-party coalition which it claims has won a majority of Lower House seats in Sunday's general election.

The declaration, however, was quickly dismissed by rival Palang Pracharath Party, which won the most votes in Sunday's election and said it could muster a coalition to form a government after full election results are out on May 9.

Palang Pracharath Party has nominated junta chief and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for premiership.

Pheu Thai, which was ousted from government by the 2014 military coup, won the most constituency seats in the election. By its own count, the coalition has bagged at least 255 seats in the House of Representatives.

Joining Pheu Thai in the press conference yesterday morning, leaders of the Future Forward Party, Pheu Chart Party, Prachachart Party, Seri Ruam Thai Party and Thai People Power Party signed a joint statement in opposition to the ruling junta. Pheu Thai said that representatives of a seventh party, the New Economics Party, could not make it to the press conference, but had committed to be part of the alliance.

Pheu Thai's de facto leader Sudarat Keyuraphan said it was in talks with other parties as well.

She said: "The people have given us their mandate to stop the junta from perpetuating its power. We will do this while abiding by ethics."

DEMOCRACY FOR THAILAND

No matter what happens, we believe those who share our ideology will stay with us. We hope that other parties will give first priority to what benefits this country and its people, and see that the country needs to be democratic, and join us.

PHEU THAI'S DE FACTO LEADER SUDARAT KEYURAPHAN

She warned that members of this coalition will likely face pressure through possible disqualification of their candidates who had won in Sunday's general election.

"No matter what happens, we believe those who share our ideology will stay with us. We hope that other parties will give first priority to what benefits this country and its people, and see that the country needs to be democratic, and join us."

Retired police chief Seripisut Temiyavet, who heads Seri Ruam Thai, made an open call to the Prime Minister and junta chief: "I request Mr Prayut to resign and not extend his power."

Thailand's new Constitution allows the junta to choose most of the 250 senators. Since the Senate has to vote on the choice of prime minister together with the 500-seat Lower House, Palang Pracharath theoretically needs only 126 Lower House seats to push Mr Prayut's nomination through.

Such a scenario creates a precarious minority government, say anti-junta leaders.

 
 
 
 
 

Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit warned at yesterday's press conference: "Trying to form the minority government while just hoping for senators' support will just bring chaos to this country and lead Thai society to a dead end."

So far, the Election Commission has disclosed only winners of the 350 constituency seats contested, without details on the winning margins. It has not revealed another list of 150 Lower House seats, which need to be allocated according to the proportion of national vote won by each party.

Based on this list, Pheu Thai won 137 constituency seats and Palang Pracharath 97. They are trailed by Bhumjaithai Party with 39 and Democrat Party with 33, both likely coalition partners of Palang Pracharath. Future Forward has 30 constituency seats.

The coalition called on the election agency to disclose full preliminary results.

In a press conference hours later, Palang Pracharath secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong said he remained confident that his party would form the government, but "now is not the time to declare victory".

Party leader Uttama Savanayana said Palang Pracharath was in talks with possible coalition partners, but declined to name them.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2019, with the headline 'Opposition alliance stakes claim on Thai govt'. Print Edition | Subscribe