By Thai Newsroom Reporters
CARETAKER PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha might probably be looking to set up a minority government to prolong his rule after the May 14 general election, given overwhelming support from senators, said a noted academic last night (May 4).
According to Thammasat University’s vice-rector Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, Prayut who is contesting to retain power under the Ruam Thai Sang Chart banners is more or less feared to contemplate setting up a minority government in sheer disregard for most voters’ decisions made on May 14.
Prayut might probably need a minimum of 126 MPs out of a total of 500 from the nationwide election in addition to a loyal army of 250 senators to make 376 votes, barely accounting for a majority of lawmakers from both the House of Representatives and Senate, to endorse him as prime minister, Prinya pointed out.
All the 250 senators had been handpicked by Palang Pracharath leader Prawit Wongsuwan and the caretaker prime minister following the 2014 coup orchestrated by the then-army chief Prayut.
Though Prawit has repeatedly said he had already learned to “step beyond conflict” and remarked that nobody in the political arena would prefer a minority government, the Palang Pracharath leader could not speak for the unyielding Prayut, the academic said.
The Palang Pracharath under whose banners Prawit is contesting as sole partisan candidate for prime minister could probably be the most likely party to join either side of the country’s political spectrum where liberalism is currently competing against conservatism.
Prinya said the possible setting up of a minority government would unduly compromise democratic rule and undoubtedly deal a heavy blow to the voters about whom he doubted the Ruam Thai Sang Chart contender for prime minister or most of the unelected senators would bother to care.
The Thammasat vice-rector made his comments in response to the sustained possibility that the Pheu Thai and Move Forward might fail to have their respective partisan contestants for prime minister successfully named one if Prayut manipulated a pre-emptive plot to steal the meagre majority of lawmakers from the House and Senate combined and to have himself named head of a minority government.
Though a total of Pheu Thai MPs, Move Forward MPs and those of a few other parties combined will considerably outnumber that of the Ruam Thai Sang Chart, Palang Pracharath, Bhumjaithai and Democrat MPs, among others, the former side might possibly fail to secure a minimum of 376 votes in the first place as long as the senators are concerned, Prinya said.
The coup junta-designed constitution of 2017 empowers the unelected senators to cast votes for a prime minister alongside the elected MPs.
Over time, a minority government might probably become one with a meagre majority with some of the MPs being possibly forced or tempted to become pro-Prayut renegades allegedly in exchange for personal gains, albeit offered in hush-hush fashion, as had been the cases with previous governments over the past decades, the Thammasat vice-rector said.
Certain parties such as the Pheu Thai might possibly be dissolved by the Constitutional Court only to land Prayut “windfall” advantages with which he could finally prolong his rule, according to the academic.
If the Pheu Thai, of which deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is largely viewed as de facto party boss, were dissolved sooner or later, the Pheu Thai MPs may retain their MP status by joining any other camps including Prayut’s in a 60-day time as provided by law.
Top and Front Page: Caretaker prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha campaigning in Surat Thani on Wednesday, May 3, 2023.
First insert: Thammasat University’s vice-rector Prinya Thaewanarumitkul.
Second insert: Palang Pracharath leader Prawit Wongsuwan. All photos: Matichon