Bangkok, July 15 (EFE).- Pita Limjaroenrat, the frontrunner to be Thailand’s next prime minister, announced on Saturday that he would step aside from the race if he fails to secure victory in the upcoming parliamentary vote next week.
In a recorded message, Pita stated that he would pass the baton to Pheu Thai, the allied party that came in second in the general elections.
The 42-year-old leader of the progressive Move Forward party fell short of the required support on Thursday in Thailand’s bicameral parliament to assume the role of prime minister.
He needed a minimum of 376 votes from the 500-member House of Representatives and 250 senators appointed in 2019 by the now-defunct military regime.
Pita garnered the support of 310 MPs and 13 senators, while 182 parliamentarians (148 MPs and 34 senators) voted against, 198 abstained (39 MPs and 159 senators), and several senators did not participate in the voting process.
According to Thai PBS, Pita emphasized that the country cannot function without a government, highlighting that he will face the vote again on July 19.
“We stand no chance if we cannot make the senators change their minds to be with us,” said Pita.
He urged the public to convey their messages to all senators using any available means “to vote for the prime minister chosen by the people or to revoke Section 272 of the charter.”
The coalition led by Pita, which also includes Pheu Thai, holds a significant majority with 312 out of the 500 lawmakers in the House of Representatives.
Thursday’s session witnessed intense opposition to Pita’s efforts to reform certain laws safeguarding the Thai royal family from criticism, which currently carry penalties of up to 15 years in prison.
The winner for the post of prime minister must must secure an absolute majority by combining the votes from both chambers.
Thailand’s Senate, consisting of military and conservative politicians, was established and fully appointed by the military junta that took power in a coup in 2014 before the country transitioned to democracy in 2019.
The current constitution, drafted by the military during the dictatorial regime, stipulates a 5-year term for senators, which ends in 2024.
Move Forward, with its strong reformist agenda, enjoys substantial support among young voters and the protesters who took to the streets in 2020 and 2021 to demand extensive changes in the country, including the reform of the lèse-majesté law. EFE