Thai election winner to support runner-up party to form govt

Bangkok, Jul 21 (EFE).- The party that won the elections in Thailand, the progressive Move Forward, announced Friday it would support the candidacy for prime minister of another party in its coalition, after the blockade to their candidacy.

The party’s Secretary General Chaithawat Tulathon said in a press conference that his formation would support the candidate proposed by allied formation Pheu Thai by consummating the formation of a new government.

The progressive party’s decision comes after senators handpicked by the former military junta twice blocked the appointment of Pita Limjaorenrat, leader of Move Forward, as prime minister.

The parliamentary blockade has created a political crisis and the start of student-led protests reminiscent of the 2020 and 2021 mobilizations.

In a statement, potential Pheu Thai party candidate Srettha Thavisin said he is willing to face the challenge, but said the formation’s executive committee has yet to decide on a nominee.

In addition to Srettha, Pheu Thai has two other possible candidates: Paetongtarn Shinawatra, whose family controls the party, and Chaikasem Nitisiri.

Move Forward and Pheu Thai lead a pro-democratic coalition of eight parties that comprise a majority of 312 of the 500 deputies in the Upper House, but 250 senators also participate in the election of the head of government, who are mostly pro-military and conservative.

The senators oppose Move Forward’’s reformist agenda, especially its intention to reform the controversial royal defamation law to reduce penalties, currently carrying between three and 15 years in prison for anyone who criticizes the royal family.

The proposal is the main obstacle for the pro-democratic coalition to obtain a majority of votes in parliament.

In addition to seeing his candidacy blocked Wednesday, Pita was dismissed as a parliamentarian by the constitutional court for a controversial case related to the possession of shares in an inactive media channel, a decision the party denounced as a political maneuver.

The court also accepted another complaint last week against the party, accused of trying to “overthrow” the country’s democratic system for the royal defamation reform proposal, which could disqualify it from running and set prison terms for its board of directors.

In February 2020, the Thai justice system dissolved and disabled the leaders of Future Forward for a case of irregular financing, a few months after expelling its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit from parliament.

The parliamentarians and politicians of the dissolved party refounded it under Move Forward, at odds with the pro-military and ultra-monarchical elite that promoted the coups of 2006 and 2014. EFE


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