Thai parliament blocks election-winning party leader from nominating prime minister

Bangkok The fierce race to nominate Thailand’s next prime minister Wednesday denies a second chance to approve the inauguration of Pita Rimjaroenrat, whose Progressive Party won an unexpected victory in May’s general elections. The resolution was passed by the parliament, making a big difference.

Mr. Pita had formed a coalition of political parties with a majority in the House of Representatives. But his nomination for prime minister was defeated in a joint vote by the House and Senate last week, with most conservative military-appointed senators refusing to endorse him.

A joint session on Wednesday debated whether Pita could receive a second nomination, after which House Speaker Wang Muhammad Noor Massa put the issue to a vote. A motion not to give him a second chance passed 395 to 312 with eight abstentions, crushing the hopes of his millions of supporters. Parliament then adjourned, with no immediate indication of when it would vote again for a new prime minister.

Thai political experts say Mr Pita’s downfall was effectively pre-determined by the 2017 constitution, which was enacted under military rule, established by measures such as giving non-elected senators the role of prime minister’s approval. It said it was intended to undermine any challenge to the Royalist order. The charter’s specific target was the political machine of billionaire populist Thaksin Shinawatra, whom the military ousted in a 2006 coup, but the rule can be used against any threat.

“The 2017 Constitution aims to protect the interests of conservatives in Thai politics and what we are seeing is that constitution in action. The movement’s fate was largely decided long before this election,” said Jacob Rix, a political science professor at the Singapore Management University.

It was received by Pita on Wednesday after he was suspended from Congress pending a ruling on whether his running for office while holding shares in a media company violated the constitution. It was the second blow, but Mr. Pita has denied the allegations.

With the court’s announcement, Pita’s nomination and election would still have been possible. Now that possibility has been ruled out by congressional action, Mr. Pita is still in legal danger and could face a prison sentence if the court decides against him.

“The key issue here is that Thai conservatives cannot gain power by contesting elections,” said Petra Alderman, a researcher at the University of Birmingham in the UK and author of a book on military authoritarian politics. speaks. The military government that came to power after the 2014 coup “created a highly undemocratic political system aimed at preventing the ‘wrong’ party from coming to power in the eyes of conservatives.”

“To cover all grounds, you will give further powers to the unelected and highly irresponsible oversight bodies, namely the Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court, to ensure that they have the right to influence popular politicians. It makes it easier to disqualify, ban or dissolve popular political parties,” he said in an email interview.

Pita said he would abide by a court order to step down from his seat in parliament during the debate over whether he could be legally reappointed.

“Thailand has changed since May 14 and I think it will never be the same,” Pita said, referring to the party’s election victory. “The people won in the middle of the road. We still have half left. I can’t complete my mission yet, but I would like to ask the members to continue to cooperate for the sake of the people.”

“Thank you very much,” he said as he left the floor to applause from his supporters.

Mr. Pita’s chances of becoming prime minister already seemed slim. He was rejected by all but 13 appointed senators who represent the country’s traditional conservative establishment, along with the military and courts.

The party has promised to amend the law that makes it illegal to defame the Thai royal family. Critics say the law, which carries prison terms of up to 15 years, is often abused as a political weapon.

The “advance” policy, which has made it highly appealing to young voters, also aims to reduce the influence of the military and major corporate monopolies that have led to more than a dozen coups since Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932. there is

Mr Pita said on Monday that he would allow candidates from other parties in his coalition to become prime minister if he did not win significantly more votes on Wednesday. The media focus has already shifted to candidates to replace Mr. Pita.

The candidate, who comes from the Pheu Thai Party, won 141 seats in the election, just 10 fewer than Move Forward’s 151 seats.

In last week’s House and Senate ballots, the eight-party coalition won 324 votes, well short of the 376 needed to win government.

Pita was Move Forward’s lone candidate, but Thai Hsiao registered three names: real estate tycoon Suretta Thavishin and Tai. Phetongtarung Shinawatra is the daughter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a military coup in 2006. and the party’s chief strategist Chaikasem Niziri.

Suretta, who emerged as a favorite, finally entered politics last year, winning the endorsement of Petontarun on Tuesday.

If the Pheu Thai Party candidate fails to gain parliamentary approval, the party’s position on royal reform is seen as an obstacle to compromise, so Move Forward is removed from the board while less liberal partners are added to the new campaign. pressure to form a coalition.

Move Forward has declared that it has no interest in working in government with political parties that have been tainted in connection with nine years of military-backed rule.

The prospect of Mr Pita being denied the premiership has enraged his supporters and pro-democracy activists, who called for demonstrations on Wednesday. By Wednesday evening, about 600 people had peacefully gathered at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, a traditional protest venue.

Copyright 2023 Associated Press. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/world/2023/07/18/thai-election-winner-set-to-make-last-stand-in-contentious-bid-to-become-prime-minister/ Thai parliament blocks election-winning party leader from nominating prime minister

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