Hurdles Ahead: Move Forward Party’s Coalition Bid Challenges

The attempt by the Move Forward Party (MFP) to create a ruling coalition might face hurdles, as several senators have openly declared their refusal to back its nominee for prime minister.

The existing constitution allows the 250 senators, appointed by the now non-existent National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), to participate with MPs in the election of a prime minister within the parliament.

This will be their second and final collaborative selection of a prime minister after the 2019 election when they voted Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha into the position.

Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader of MFP, disclosed plans to establish a coalition government on Monday.

This proposed government would include five previous opposition parties and one new party, totaling 310 MPs with Pita Limjaroenrat himself slated for the prime minister’s role.

Following the Election Commission’s declaration of MFP’s victory, Mr. Pita announced that they secured a majority with 152 MPs – 113 elected from constituencies and 39 from the party list.

He interpreted this win as a directive from the people for his party to take the lead in shaping the forthcoming government.

Mr Pita reported reaching out to Paetongtarn Shinawatra, a prime ministerial candidate from Pheu Thai, to commend her campaign efforts and extend an invitation for her party to join the coalition.

In response, Ms Paetongtarn congratulated the Move Forward party and suggested that the media be notified about their discussion, in the interest of maintaining transparency, Mr Pita added.

The other three former opposition parties he had touched base with included Thai Sang Thai, Prachachart, and Seri Ruam Thai. Combined, these five parties secured 309 MP seats.

Mr. Pita contacted Pen Tham from the Fair Party, which had one party-list MP, to join the coalition. He praised their efforts for peace in the southernmost border provinces.

These six parties would collectively bring 310 MPs, which would suffice for a majority government, he stated.

“We aim to establish the government as promptly as possible to prevent a political and economic vacuum. Rest assured that Move Forward will act swiftly and meticulously,” Mr Pita asserted.

When asked about concerns regarding senators’ support for the coalition, Mr. Pita dismissed worries, citing the people’s mandate as reassurance.

However, Senator Jadet Insawang pointed out that he swore an oath to uphold the constitutional monarchy upon his appointment as a senator.

He argued that Mr. Pita and the MFP’s pledge to abolish Section 112, which could affect the monarchy, is unacceptable.

“If the MFP gets 376 MPs’ support (over half of the 750 members), they won’t need Senate approval for a prime ministerial candidate. However, if they only get 309, they will need it.”

“As far as I’m concerned, if Mr Pita, the MFP’s candidate for prime minister, is proposed for a vote in parliament, he will not receive my support,” Senator Jadet claimed.

Senator Kittisak Rattanawaraha suggested that the senators would evaluate the credentials of any prime ministerial candidate proposed for a vote in parliament.

“One requirement is that the nominee must demonstrate loyalty to the nation, religion, and monarchy,” he stated.

He continued, stating that it’s too early to speculate on the composition of a potential coalition government.

“Senators assess potential future issues and protests when endorsing a prime ministerial candidate. Multiple perspectives must be considered.”

“The senators will make choices that serve the nation’s best interests,” Mr Kittisak asserted.

Chalermchai Fuengkorn, a senator, suggested that the party with the most seats needs 376 MPs’ support to propose a prime minister and bypass the Senate.

“If they include other parties in their coalition, like Bhumjaithai, the Senate becomes irrelevant,” he said. “But if they lack enough support and some senators abstain from voting, their coalition attempt could falter.”

Laddawan Tantivitayapitak, the secretary-general of P-Net, urged parties to respect the people’s decision in the election and the Senate to honor the majority’s choice for the prime ministerial candidate.