11-Party Bloc Announces Support for Prayuth

Junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha a smiles in a rare good mood at Government House on May 13, 2019.

BANGKOK — Eleven small parties on Monday declared they will collectively vote for junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha as the next prime minister when parliament convenes.

A group representative said the 11 parties, which command one party-list MP each, believe Prayuth is best positioned to lead the country. Polamuang Thai Party leader Sampan Lertnuwong said the faction may withdraw its support in the future if Prayuth mismanages the country.

Meanwhile Bhumjaithai, the party which will command the fifth-most seats in the next parliament, has yet to commit its 51 MPs to any side.

Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters he plans to listen to the voices of voters and will reveal which political camp the party will join next Tuesday. Both Phalang Pracharath and Pheu Thai parties have announced their bids to form a coalition government.

Anutin, whose party notably pushed for the legalization of marijuana, also said that the party will not support a PM candidate who cannot muster majority support from 250 MP seats.

Although both sides of politics are rumoured to be courting the former health minister, Anutin – a PM candidate himself – denied having talked with representatives from the major parties.

“I insist that we haven’t talked with the two big parties, particularly over the past two weeks. There was no contact or negotiations,” said Anutin on Monday at the Election Commission, where he and other party members registered as new MPs.

Bhumjaithai has become an important swing party whose support could prove pivotal in the selection of the next prime minister.

Anuthin said he will visit and thank all 39 constituencies that elected a Bhumjaithai MP, because he would like to listen to their voices before making a decision.