The dream of the 2014 coup leader Prayut Chan-o-cha to remain in power as ‘democratically’ elected Prime Minister could become a reality if the opposition parties do not manage to break the magic number of 376 member of parliament on their side.
General Prayut, who had overthrown the democratically elected government of Pheu Thai on May 22, 2014, coup, earlier this week announced that he had joined Ruam Thai Saang Chart party (United Thai Nation Party – UTN), with the aim to be its candidate for the Prime Minister when the voting comes up for Thailand’s 30th Prime Minister after the next general elections.
To make his dream come true, General Prayut’s handpicked appointed senators have come out to show their support to the move to have him continue in power by coming out to say that even if the people vote in a political party that has more than 250 votes in the 500 seat lower house, the Senators will continue to vote for those who brought them in power.
This statement was made earlier this week by the military government’s handpicked senator – Seri Suwannapanont, who came out to answer a question raised by a journalist where the reporter asked if a coalition of parties managed to get more than 250 votes, would the senate vote in their candidate to be the Prime Minister or not?
The answer by Seri was very simple – that the senators would vote for those who got them to power even if it meant that it was against the mandate of the people (in this case with more than 250 seats under their belt).
“I cannot answer for all but a lot of us think that if the water is coming from a glass, then it will flow back to that glass. I can say that it will go to Prawit (Prawit Wongsuwon) or Prayut, because we came from there,” Seri said in response to the question raised. When stressed if that meant that it is against the wishes of the people, he said that it was not against the wishes of the people his response was “people elect but it is to a certain point, but the things written in the constitution is another thing.”
The 2016 constitution that was drafted by the coup makers stipulates that the 250 senators have the power to select the candidate proposed by the political parties that has at least 25 sitting MPs under its banner.
Seri went on to say that the conflict between the mastermind of the coup – Prawit, and the coup undertaker – Prayut, was something that was for real and that there is a division between the 2.
He added that at the moment the bigger faction is with Prayut but if the voting is undertaken then the senators would vote en masse to one of the 2 sides (Prayut or Prawit).
376 MPs Needed to Neutralize the Senate
The opposition parties that are looking to form the next government need to be mindful that they would need at least 376 MPs in their fold to be able to neutralize the biased power of the 250 senators who have clearly indicated that they do not care for what the people want.
It is this reason why Pheu Thai party has the battle cry of getting at least 251 seats in the upcoming elections. Such number by a single political party would give it the upper hand and legitimacy in forming the government and would also give it the magnetic power to attract other parties.
By having a single party having more than 250 seats in the 500 lower house of the parliament, would make any shenanigans being played by the 2014 coup makers, look like a joke and would make the minority government of the military backed parties illegitimate.
This is the reason why Pheu Thai has been calling out for a ‘landslide’ victory because only such a margin of victory would put an end to the military rule. The senate which has 250 MPs could help vote in any political party they support as long that side has 125 MPs in their bag (125 MPs + 250 senators = 375). The aim of UTN and other parties that are on its side is to manage to get 125 MP seats.
The Pheu Thai party on the other hand has an uphill battle to get 376 MP seats on its side to be able to form the government and the statement from Thaksin Shinawatra, the behind the scene advisor to Pheu Thai party, that the current opposition grouping of Pheu Thai, Move Forward and Seri Ruam Thai party would likely get as many as 300 seats would be a good start to galvanize other wanna be in government parties to come to this block.
The gameplan of Thaksin and Pheu Thai party seems to be going in the positive direction as even the so called ‘kingmaker’ Bhumjai Thai party, has started to send olive branches to Pheu Thai for possible shift in alliance after the elections.
Bhumjai Thai party’s behind the scene backer and so called ‘teacher’ – Newin Chidchob, has come out to say that Bhumjai Thai party and Pheu Thai party including Thaksin, have no hatred towards each other and that they all can work together.
The fact that the kingmaker party and its ‘teacher’ are indicating that they can work with Pheu Thai party, is a clear indication that the tides are changing and these parties that have been with the coup makers in their gameplan to remain in power are starting to realize that the endgame for the 2014 coup makers is on the horizon and it may be time for the rats to jump the ship before the coup makers ship sinks.