Thai Parliamentary Election Leaves Country Without Prime Minister or Government
It has been over two months since Thailand held its parliamentary election, yet the country still finds itself without a prime minister or a functioning government. The delay in establishing a government has been primarily due to the legal troubles surrounding reformist leader Pita Limjaroenrat, who received the most votes but is unable to assume office.
Pita, a Harvard-educated businessman and member of the Move Forward Party, was initially poised to become Thailand’s prime minister. However, allegations surfaced that he held shares in a media company, which led to his suspension as a Member of Parliament by the Constitutional Court pending a ruling.
In a blow to Pita’s aspirations, the Parliament voted to void his prime ministerial nomination, effectively preventing him from running for the position once again. This decision was made due to election laws and the military-backed constitution, despite Pita’s popularity among the people.
The Move Forward Party made significant gains in this year’s election, winning 151 seats and forming a coalition of eight parties with a clear majority in the House of Representatives. However, the prime minister is elected through a total of 750 parliamentarians, with 500 democratically elected and 250 appointed by the previous military junta.
Unfortunately, Pita’s coalition only controls 312 seats, falling short of the necessary 376 votes required to be elected as prime minister. Conservative forces in Thailand, who oppose Pita’s proposals for liberalizing reforms, have used this opportunity to block him from taking office.
Pita’s suspension and denial of nomination have sparked protests among young people who feel that their democratic will has been stifled. They see Pita as a beacon of hope for their aspirations, which include rewriting the constitution, amending the lèse-majesté law, improving gender equality, and reducing military power.
The next round of parliamentary voting is scheduled for July 27, with a candidate from the second-place party, Pheu Thai, likely to be nominated for the prime minister position. While the Move Forward Party still commands the most seats in the House, and intends to continue pursuing its agenda, there are rumors of a potential split between Pheu Thai and the coalition.
Despite the challenges, Pita remains optimistic about the progress of democracy in Thailand. However, some observers are skeptical that significant change in civil-military relations will occur in the near future. As Thailand eagerly awaits the formation of a government and a prime minister, the nation is at a crossroads between the aspirations of its people and the political realities of its system.