- Parliament will hold another vote for the post of prime minister next week
- Moving forward, aim for a room controlled by the military
- Expect political tension and an uncertain outcome
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s Movement Forward party introduced a motion in parliament on Friday seeking to curb the power of the military-appointed upper house, a day after the assembly thwarted its leader’s bid to become prime minister.
The role of the 249-member Senate in deciding the prime minister along with the elected Chamber of Deputies – a system engineered by the royal army after the 2014 coup – is seen as a constitutional guarantee to protect the interests of the generals and the conservative establishment.
The Movement Forward won the most seats in the May elections, but despite being unopposed and having the support of his eight-party coalition, its leader Peta Limjaronrat lost the crucial premiership vote on Thursday, following the outgoing Senate and military parties. – The supported government closed ranks to deprive him of the highest position.
Thirteen senators supported the 42-year-old Pete, and the rest voted against or abstained, which his party said indicated some of them acted under duress.
The party’s general secretary Chithwat Tulathon put forward a proposal on Friday to amend part of the constitution, saying, “This is a solution that all parties will feel comfortable with.”
“There are forces from the old authority to put pressure on the Senate – from the old authority to some capitalists who don’t want to see a government move forward,” he said in a previous television interview, adding that it could take about a month.
A privately held liberal, PETA has won significant support from young people for his plan to change politics and bring about reforms in sectors and institutions that have long been considered untouchable.
That includes the monarchy and, more specifically, the law prohibiting insulting them, by far the most controversial Move Forward policy and a major hurdle in its attempts to persuade lawmakers to support PETA.
On Thursday, Pita vowed not to abandon those policies or abandon his fight for the premiership. The Speaker confirmed that he could run again if nominated in the next vote for the position, which will take place on July 19.
Thursday’s defeat followed a major blow to Peta on the eve of the vote, when the election commission recommended his exclusion over a contribution issue, and followed hours later with the Constitutional Court announcing it had received a complaint about his party’s plan to amend the vote. Royal Insult Act.
The political tension this week was widely expected.
For two decades, Thailand has been locked in a power struggle between reform-minded parties that win elections and a raft of old money and a military bent on stifling them.
Pro-democracy groups called for protests. A United Front of Petitions and Demonstrations activist group targeted senators and abstainers, calling them weak and “toxic to the will of the people”.
Thitinan Pongsuderak, a political science professor at Chulalongkorn University, called the constitution a limitation on democracy and said that systematic attempts to stop the “forward movement” would see a public backlash.
“These old guard institutions need to maintain power because they have a lot to lose,” he said.
“The kind of change that ‘Movement Forward’ is calling for would dissolve the monarchy-centric system in Thailand, and then would open up institutional reforms…that would unleash a lot of Thailand’s competitiveness, Thailand’s potential.”
Additional reporting by Nabat, Chartres and Guaroye Kitisilba.
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