Pita Limjaroenrat of Thailand's Move Forward Party 'ready to be prime minister' but coalition talks lie ahead

First to 376 seats is the winner.

Tan Min-Wei | May 15, 2023, 02:04 PM

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Th leader of Thailand's Move Forward Party (MFP), Pita Limjaroenrat, has said that he is expecting to form a coalition government with fellow opposition party Pheu Thai, but things may not be so straightforward.

Change Thailand together

Thailand went to the ballot box on May 14, with political parties competing for 500 lower house parliament seats.

Thai opposition parties performed well, with the MFP winning well over 100 seats in its first election after the dissolution of its predecessor Future Forward Party.

Pita reacted to exit polls, calling them a "positive sign", according to the Bangkok Post.

He also said that he intended to open discussions with fellow opposition party Pheu Thai about the possibility of forming a coalition.

"A collaboration of the opposition parties is the perfect way to  deal with the challenges the country faces." he was quoted as saying, adding "we will change Thailand together."

In a report by Thai PBS, Pita has said that he intends to be prime minister should MFP win the most seats.

Pheu Thai leaders, according to the Bangkok Post, have said they will "prioritise talks with pro-democratic parties".

But according to Srettha Thavisin, one of Pheu Thai's Prime Minister Candidates, they had not spoken to MFP yet, as of the night of May 14.

Magic number

A coalition will be necessary as neither MFP nor Pheu Thai will attain the 376 seats needed to guarantee a prime ministerial candidate.

Thailand's prime minister is decided by a vote of the 750 members of both the upper and lower houses of parliament.

The 250 senators of the upper house were appointed by the former Thai military government in 2019 and voted as a unified bloc in 2019 for the incumbent prime minister and former general Prayuth Chan-Ocha, allowing him to become prime minister without winning the 2019 election, with one exception.

Both members of a potential opposition coalition have reason to worry about how viable a governing coalition might be.

Pheu Thai's election campaign is led by Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter and niece of two former prime ministers, Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra, who were both ousted in military coups.

MFP itself is a successor party to the Future Forward Party that was dissolved after a good performance in the previous general election.

It is a reform-minded party, popular with Thailand's urban youth.

Pita himself has been accused of failure to properly disclose holdings in a media company, although he denies wrongdoing according to The Nation.

While Pita has staked out an early claim to become prime minister, it is possible that the candidate of another party may ultimately end up with the top job is they can secure the support of the senators.

Incumbent PM Prayuth however has previously ruled out the possibility of a coup, and said on the night of May 14 that he respects the election results, according to Thai PBS.

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Top image via Pita Limjaroenrat - พิธา ลิ้มเจริญรัตน์/Facebook & พรรคเพื่อไทย/Facebook