BANGKOK: Mr Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader and prime ministerial candidate of Thailand’s progressive party Move Forward, announced on Monday (May 15) that his political group is ready to form a majority government, following its historic victory in the general election.
Speaking at a press conference at his party’s headquarters, the 42-year-old emphasised the will of the people to entrust the Move Forward Party with managing the country and called on all sides to respect such a consensus.
“It is clear that the people of Thailand have expressed their will at polling stations to make the Move Forward Party come first in the general election that has just taken place,” Mr Pita said.
“I would like to announce here that the Move Forward Party is ready to lead the forming of the future government.”
About 39.3 million people cast their votes in the election on Sunday to elect 500 members of the House of Representatives.
The Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) reported on Monday that the voter turnout is 75.22 per cent, making it the highest in Thailand’s political history.
There were about 52 million eligible voters in the Sunday polls, and more than 2 million of them had cast their ballots in advance voting on May 7.
Preliminary results published by the ECT on Monday showed the Move Forward Party in first place with 151 seats. In second and third places were the Pheu Thai Party and the Bhumjaithai Party, which won 141 seats and 70 seats respectively.
According to Mr Pita, his party has been in touch with its political allies about forming the next government. They include Pheu Thai, Prachachat, Thai Sang Thai and Seri Ruam Thai.
Together they have 308 seats, which is enough to form a majority government in the 500-member House of Representatives.
The Move Forward Party is also in talks with another potential ally, the Fair Party. If the negotiation proves successful, the total number of seats held by the coalition would be 309.
“It is clear that this has closed the door on the forming of a minority government,” Mr Pita said.
“READY TO BE A PRIME MINISTER FOR ALL THAIS”
The Move Forward Party leader affirmed his readiness to serve as Thailand’s next prime minister and to work with people who have different views in order to move the country forward.
“I’m ready to be a prime minister for all Thais. I’m ready to listen to different opinions and different opinions will make me a better prime minister in the future,” he said in the press conference.
“Now, we’re ready to respect, honour and continue the fight for democracy by all sides in the past. At the same time, we’re also ready to restore faith in the democratic system and parliamentary system, and to create transparency as well as efficiency in the Thai political system, including every member of the House of Representatives,” he added.
Despite its victory in the electoral race, there is still uncertainty about whether the Move Forward Party can eventually form the next government and who will win the premiership.
Under the current constitution, the selection of the prime minister involves both the House of Representatives and the 250-member Senate – the upper house of parliament.
For a candidate to become prime minister, the person must be approved by more than half of the combined assembly.
This means the Move Forward Party needs to consolidate at least 376 votes – either from both Houses or only from the 500-member Lower House – in order for its candidate to win the premiership and form the government.
Standing between the party and its victory are the 250 senators. They were selected and appointed in 2019 by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) – the military government led by Prayut Chan-o-cha after his coup d’etat toppled a democratically elected government in 2014.
Gen Prayut is Thailand’s incumbent prime minister. He has been in power for nearly nine years. Following the previous general election in 2019, all but one senator – Senate speaker Pornpetch Wichitchonchai – voted for his premiership.
Asked about the role of the Senate in the forming of the future government, Mr Pita replied: “I'm not worried because we already have the people’s consensus, which should be respected by all sides. Going against the people’s consensus is not beneficial to any side at all, even to the Senate.”
The Move Forward Party will continue talks about forming the government as well as set up a “transition team” to ensure a smooth transition of power from the incumbent administration to the next.
“We will work fast to form the government as soon as possible so there is no political or economic vacuum, uncertainty or risks to Thailand,” Mr Pita said.
“I’d like to ask the public and all sectors to be confident in our work. We will certainly work meticulously, carefully, and quickly for every Thai.”