Abhisit Warns Dem Will Lose Credibility If It Joins Junta Camp

Abhisit Vejjajiva upon being re-elected as the Democrat Party chairman in November 2018.

BANGKOK — Former Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday his erstwhile party will face tough questions if it joins the pro-junta coalition.

Speaking in an online video, Abhisit warned that even if the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties decide to support the junta-backed coalition, it will only have three seats more than the required majority in the lower house and won’t be stable. The Democrats may also lose credibility in the eyes of the public, he said.

“What about the acceptance of society?” Abhisit said in an hour-long interview hosted by fellow party member Kanawat Chantaralawa. “Well, you can see the problems ahead.”

Despite its reputation as Thailand’s oldest political party, the Democrats won only 52 MP seats in the March 24 elections, well below a projected 100 plus seats.

Looking back at the polls, Abhisit said the election was more about choosing sides than electing representatives. The Democrat Party was subsequently forced to choose between the pro- and anti-junta camp, he said.

“It’s like we are being forced to take sides but neither sides will proceed smoothly,” reflected Abhisit.

He recalled that junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha became the center of political divisions during the election. Abhisit announced a week prior to polling that he and his party would not support Prayuth’s bid for another term in office – prompting dissent and open rebellion within his own party.

But Abhisit defended his decision in yesterday’s interview.

“What I said was not based on emotions, but ideology,” said Abhisit, adding that he believes over 3.9 million people voted for the Democrat Party because of its political stance.

The Oxford-educated Abhisit, who served a term as prime minister in 2008-2011, resigned as party leader on the night of March 24 per a pledge to step down if the Democrats failed to win at least 100 seats.

He said resigning from the post after 14 years at the helm was like lifting a weight off his shoulders.

“I met the new party leader this morning and I teased that I will start by congratulating him. Yet when I thought about the past 14 years, it made me wonder if I really should congratulate him,” Abhisit said with a laugh.

Additional reporting Teeranai Charuvastra