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May 26, 2023
Pita Urges Unity After Thai Coalition Squabbles Over House Speaker Job
(Bloomberg) -- The coalition of pro-democracy parties that swept the Thai election this month should stop public haggling over the house speaker’s post and instead focus on forming a government to end nearly a decade of military-backed rule, its leader said.
The dispute between Move Forward and Pheu Thai — the largest parties in the coalition — over whose nominee should be speaker of the House of Representatives is a “minor issue compared to the mission entrusted to us by the people,” Pita Limjaroenrat, the bloc’s prime minister candidate, said on Twitter on Friday.
Pita’s call for truce came after leaders of the Move Forward and Pheu Thai publicly argued this week over the speaker’s post, threatening to derail the coalition of eight parties even before it can take power. The bloc, which has 312 seats in the 500-member lower house, is still canvassing support from members of the unelected Senate for Pita’s bid for the top job.
“It would be best for parties in the coalition to hold discussions over the house speaker issue internally,” said Pita, who is also Move Forward’s leader. “I urge every party to fine-tune our policies together and successfully form the government to fulfill expectations of the people.”
Read More: Here’s How Thailand’s PM Race Could Play Out as Talks Drag On
The row over the speaker’s job came soon after the coalition signed a pact to work together on an array of issues including charter amendments and ending military conscription while omitting the controversial issue of amending the lese majeste law, a key pre-election promise of Pita’s party.
Move Forward laid claim to the speaker’s job, saying it’s crucial to pushing through its progressive laws and ensuring parliamentary transparency that the party had promised to voters. But Pheu Thai has argued that Pita’s party cannot keep all key positions to itself at the expense of other coalition partners.
A Pita-led government may be several weeks or months away as the Election Commission has until July 13 to certify official election results, which will pave the way for the first meeting of the house and selection of prime minister.
Even though the pro-democracy coalition commands a clear lower house majority, it’s still short of about 60 votes needed to ensure Pita’s win. The Harvard-educated Pita faces opposition from a majority of the 250-member upper house Senate that also gets to vote on prime minister. The chamber is stacked with allies of the pro-military royalist establishment.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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