BANGKOK – Thailand’s oldest political party -The Democrat Party – will on Tuesday decide how the party MPs will vote in the prime ministerial selection in parliament scheduled for Wednesday, party spokesman Rames Ratanachaweng says.
The Democrat Party has yet to decide if it will choose democracy or accept the invitation of the Pro Junta Party – The Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) to join its alliance to form a coalition government loyal to Gen.Prayut.
There are reports that the parties cannot reach an agreement on the allocation of certain ministerial positions.
With 53 MP seats in hand, the Democrats’ decision may have a big impact on the stability of the PPRP-led coalition.
If the Democrats do not join its coalition, PPRP might also lose Bhumjaithai which has 51 seats and announced it would not serve in a minority government.
The PPRP itself has 116 MP seats and can claim a total of 150 in the coalition including Chartthaipattana and smaller parties.
Mr Rames said Democrat MPs and executives would meet on Tuesday afternoon to set a strategy for the prime ministerial vote the following day. They are likely to discuss the PPRP invitation if the latter has sorted out its own problems by then, he said.
There have been reports that a 30-strong group led by Somsak Thepsuthin was threatening to quit PPRP unless it received the Agriculture Ministry portfolio, which the Democrats are also believed to covet. Mr Somsak denied the reports.
“The Democrat party doesn’t try to negotiate for cabinet positions,” Mr Rames said. “If the PPRP doesn’t get back to us by June 4, the party will proceed with its meeting and things should be settled that day.”
Mr Rames played down speculation that some of his party’s MPs might abstain in the prime ministerial vote whether or not the party joins the PPRP-led alliance, saying he believes the MPs would toe the party line.
While it is clear the PPRP will nominate incumbent premier Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to return to the post, Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai said no agreement has been reached so far as to whom the Pheu Thai-led coalition will nominate.
Pheu Thai will also hold a meeting on Tuesday afternoon to prepare for the vote.
The vote, in which a joint meeting of 499 MPs and 250 senators will be held to select the prime minister, is scheduled following royal endorsements of House speaker Chuan Leekpai, Senate speaker Pornpetch Wichitcholchai and their deputies on Friday.
By Aekarach Sattaburuth
The Bangkok Post