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Sources inside the government house and within the ruling coalition say that a house dissolution may not be far off as the government faces increasing pressure on its Covid-19 response and its foot-dragging on constitutional reform.
The government has come under a barrage of criticism for its allegedly lethargic response in stemming the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic which has left nearly 15,000 people infected since April 1.
The government is also seeing continued pressure from opposition parties and political groups for pushing charter amendments and the continued detention of political prisoners – mostly student-leaders.
As a result, the Prayut Chan-ocha is seriously considering dissolving the house and calling snap elections, multiple sources told Thai Enquirer this week.
According to one senior advisor to a cabinet minister, the government sees a house dissolution and regaining some legitimacy and halting criticism while not risking its grip on power.
“If they dissolve the house now, the election would be contested under the 2017 constitution which virtually guarantees that General Prayut keeps his place because the senate would still have voting power,” said the senior advisor.
“They could dissolve the house as early as June,” he said.
Opposition parties had accused the government of dragging its feet on amending the constitution because it wanted to contest the next election, due in two years, under the current charter. However, a house dissolution would circumvent those criticism while also providing the government with a fresh mandate.
“There have definitely been rumors that the prime minister will dissolve the house from inside the cabinet and the ruling party,” said a senior Democrat MP on the condition of anonymity.
“But I believe the coalition partners have pushed back on that possibility and said that the government must wait before the budget is passed later this year before it can dissolve the house,” he said. “That means that we won’t see a house dissolution until around October if it were to happen.”
Despite the persistence of the rumors that a house dissolution was imminent, analysts say that the resurgence of the pandemic has likely shelved the plans for the time being.
“These rumors have been floating around for at least two months,” said Arun Saronchai, a Thai political analyst. “But they cannot dissolve the house now, surely. That would be the height of irresponsibility given what is going on with Covid.”
“If they dissolve the house now, it would look like they’re quitting on the country,” he said.