Thaksin ally Srettha Thavisin becomes new Thai PM in coalition that includes pro-military parties

Srettha's coalition included two pro-military parties.

Tan Min-Wei | August 22, 2023, 07:18 PM


Srettha Thavisin of the Pheu Thai Party became Thailand's new Prime Minister on Aug 22, over three months after after Thailand's May 14 general election.

Bad blood

Srettha attained 482 votes in a joint session of Thailand's upper and lower houses of parliament, well over the 374 seats needed to win, according to the Bangkok Post.

Srettha was a long shot prospect for the PM position, and was one of three Pheu Thai PM candidates.

One of the others, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, is the daughter and niece of former Thai PMs Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra, who were both ousted in military coups.

Pheu Thai is seem as the successor party to Thaksin and Yingluck's parties, starting with the Thai Rak Thai party.

But the party, highly favoured before the election season started, was gradually overtaken by the progressive Move Forward Party of Pita Limjaroenrat.

MFP would surprise observers by winning the election, gaining 10 seats more than Pheu Thai's 141 seats.

Look what you made me do

But MFP's coalition was unable to overcome accusations against Pita owning shares in a media company, as well as conservative worries about MFP's determination to reform Thailand's pro-monarchy Leste Majesty law.

Pita would be nominated twice for PM role, but would fail both times, with the military appointed upper house Senate almost entirely united in preventing the eight party coalition from winning.

So while MFP had well over the 251 seat they need to win a lower house majority at 312, they fell far short of the 376 votes they needed to win a vote of the upper and lower houses.

After this Pheu Thai indicated that they would leave the MFP coalition, in order to form its own, leading to some MFP supporters protesting at their headquarters.

You belong with me

Srettha and Pheu Thai formed their own 314 seat, 11 party coalition, as reported by the Bangkok Post.

The new coalition, of which Pheu Thai's 141 seats is by far the largest, includes two pro-military parties of Palang Pracharath with 40 seats, and United Thai Nation, the party of outgoing PM Prayuth Chan-ocha, with 36 seats.

Notably, the MFP said that it would not vote for Srettha, saying that it could not support a coalition that included pro-military parties.

There was some uncertainty over whether Srettha would gain enough votes to become PM, with the 61 year-old businessman also facing corruption allegations, according to the Bangkok Post.

Coincidentally, Srettha's confirmation comes on the same day that ally Thaksin Shinawatra ended his 17 year-exile by returning to Thailand, where he was arrested and imprisoned to begin an eight year term.

With his victory, it seems that Thailand's period of uncertainty regarding its PM is over.

Whether its disparate governing coalition can hold together will likely be the source of much speculation in the future.

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