Opinion: Pita has options but so does Pheu Thai

Everybody was all smiles on Tuesday night after a big coalition meeting purportedly cleared the air over longstanding issues. Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat sat next to Pheu Thai leader Cholanan Srikaew in a symbolic gesture to show that all was well.

But both sides know the truth.

If Move Forward cannot get to 376 votes by the end of June, this all would have been for nothing. And we’re still a long way to go. By the latest count, MFP have around 330 votes max. That means they need to convince more senators and/or more MPs from Bhumjai Thai and the Democrat Party to vote for Pita.

That is not an easy task, in fact it is even more uphill than you think. The senators will go down as martyrs in ignominy then vote for something they perceive would endanger the institution. BJT will likely bring the whip down on their MPs because they see an alternative path where they can form a government.

And let’s be clear, and let’s ignore the friendly ‘all-is-well’ BS currently pervading the political space, if MFP cannot get the votes they need then all options are on the table. And all options are being discussed.

That means that there is a pathway where Pheu Thai joins with BJT, the PPRP, the Democrats and the senate in forming a separate government. Pheu Thai would not be breaking any promises, they can say truthfully that they tried in good faith to back the MFP but they couldn’t get it across the line. They can say that they have to make this deal with BJT and the PPRP otherwise Prayut Chan-ocha and the caretaker government will be in place forever. In this scenario, if MFP chooses not to join this coalition, Pheu Thai could play the victim card and say they played ball but MFP were the new brats in the room who wouldn’t come together to oust the Prayut regime.

This would all be true. But it would still leave a bad taste in the mouth. It would also not be the whole truth. MFP also has its own campaign promises to keep including not joining with parties that voted yes to the military government – including BJT and Democrat. MFP could also point out that they should not have to settle for second place having won the most seats in the last election and are forced to do so by an undemocratic constitution.

There is also an alternative scenario where PT and MFP play nice with MFP taking the key ministries while PT takes the premiership but sources from both camp say this is an increasingly unlikely scenario with key backers unhappy with such an arrangement.

Either way, both parties have choices and what they decide will determine the fate and perception of their respective camps for years to come.


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