Pheu Thai PM Candidates Face Uncertainty in Senate Backings

The Pheu Thai (PT) Party believes their primary candidate for PM will be approved in the upcoming parliamentary vote, according to an insider.

However, the source stated that the situation could change unpredictably before the vote. Prawit Wongsuwon, Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) leader and PM candidate, might potentially become the next prime minister, backed by renegade MPs from Pheu Thai.

Attention now rests on whether the parliament’s head, Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, will declare a date for the next PM vote this Tuesday. The announcement should be made at least three days prior to the voting.

The source specified that if the vote takes place on Friday, the official notice should come out by Tuesday.

Additionally, it also stated that Pheu Thai representatives have successfully secured enough backing for their PM nominee, Srettha Thavinsin, from various parties.

Senators are expected to back him, especially since Pheu Thai has moved away from the Move Forward Party (MFP). The MFP’s intention to change Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law, is opposed by senators.

Yet, if senators decided not to support Mr. Srettha, it indicates Pheu Thai’s potential misjudgment and Prawit’s potential as the upcoming PM, the source suggested.

There’s speculation that senators might bypass all three Pheu Thai candidates, choosing instead to endorse the “conservative” party for leadership.

Anutin Charnvirakul of the Bhumjaithai Party, or Gen Prawit, could stand to gain in such a scenario. The other two primary candidates from Pheu Thai are Paetongtarn Shinawatra and Chaikasem Nitisiri.

Srettha: Senate Backing is Uncertain

“If Pheu Thai decides to become a stepping stone for Gen Prawit, this will spell doom for it. Pheu Thai executives face high stakes and must decide wisely.”

“During the May 14 campaign, we vowed not to ally with ‘uncle’ parties tied to the 2014 coup,” claimed the source. These “uncles” allude to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Gen Prawit.

Earlier, Pheu Thai used the excuse of “a unique political situation” for the cessation of inter-party rivalry, emphasizing unity. However, voters should’ve been informed of this stance before the May 14 election, allowing them to make an informed choice.

Discussing this matter now seems to be a justification for their eagerness to establish a government, the source added.

The source also mentioned that a PPRP party of 40 MPs had pledged their support for Pheu Thai’s PM nominee, even without a formal announcement from the PPRP.

Still, the red-shirt loyalists resist the idea of collaborating with PPRP, especially with Gen Prawit at its helm, the source stated.

The probable path for Gen Prawit to lead a majority-backed government is by persuading some Pheu Thai MPs to defect, they said.

There’s growing apprehension that if Mr. Srettha’s PM nomination falls through and Pheu Thai remains unable to form a government, it might open doors for an ‘outsider PM’ nomination, the source revealed.

According to the constitution, if parliament can’t decide on a party’s PM candidate, Section 272 provides an alternative.

In this scenario, 50% of the 750 members can move to bypass the mandate that PM nominees come from party lists, facilitating an outsider’s nomination.

Sukhum Nuansakul, a political expert, believes Pheu Thai’s PM candidate, Mr. Srettha, won’t gain senatorial support due to their ties to traditional power groups favoring Gen Prawit.

He warned of potential protests if the old guard continues to dominate. Despite being aware, Pheu Thai risks credibility by aligning with them.

Including the ‘uncle parties’ in a Pheu Thai-led administration would damage Pheu Thai’s reputation, he mentioned.

Sukhum described, “The present state is a clash between a conservative political establishment and a youthful demand for reform.”

On whether Pheu Thai could reconsider its alliance with MFP, Sukhum said it hinges on a Constitutional Court decision regarding MFP leader Pita Limjaroenrat’s renomination rejection.

This week, the court will determine the constitutionality of Mr. Pita’s denied renomination. If the decision favors Mr. Pita, his renomination is viable, Sukhum stated.