6 June 2024

The Thai parliament will hold a debate tomorrow (Wednesday) on the issue of the re-nomination of Move Forward party leader Pita Limjaroenrat as Thailand’s next prime minister, after the House and Senate whips failed to resolve their differences on the issue at today’s meeting.

The whips are clearly divided on this contentious issue with the House whips, for the Move Forward party in particular, contending that parliamentary Rule 41 should not be applied in the selection of the prime minister, claiming that parliamentary regulations regarding prime minister’s selection are covered in a different chapter. The Senate whips, however, maintain that Rule 41 must be applied.

Rule 41 specifies that the any motion which fails to be approved in parliament (such as Pita’s candidacy) cannot be resubmitted in the same parliamentary session.

House speaker Wan Mohamad Noor Matha, who chaired the whips’ meeting today, said he will allow members of the two Houses to debate this issue for about two hours during the joint sitting tomorrow, after which he will either make a decision himself to resolve the issue or call a vote.

An alternative option is to exempt the use of Rule 41, as proposed by some members of parliament.  Wan said, however, that someone must propose this option before the start of the sitting tomorrow and that this option must be approved by at least half of the members of the two Houses.

Wan also pointed out that, if Rule 41 is exempted, he has no idea which rules will be applied to the process of selecting the prime minister. He said that there is no rule prohibiting members of parliament nominating another candidate though.

The eight coalition parties, led by Move Forward, have, however, agreed unanimously to resubmit Pita’s prime ministerial candidacy to parliament tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Pheu Thai party leader Chonlanan Srikaew said that parliament may have to vote to decide on the issue of Pita’s re-nomination, adding that, if the re-nomination bid fails, parliament will have to meet for the third time.

If there is a vote on Pita’s re-nomination, he said Pita needs to receive 10% more votes than received in the first vote, or 356-360 votes compared to the 324 votes he received on July 13th, as he quoted Pita’s own statement, saying that he should receive more votes in the second joint sitting.

Chonlanan said that the Move Forward party has not formally announced that it will step aside to let the Pheu Thai party take the lead in forming the new government, but hinted that, if the Pheu Thai party takes the lead, the memorandum of understanding signed by the eight parties, including Pheu Thai, would have to be reviewed.