Pheu Thai Divided on Thanathorn’s PM Bid, Source Says

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit speaks at a news conference on May 17, 2019.

BANGKOK — Not everyone in Pheu Thai is happy with Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit’s bid to be the next prime minister, a senior Pheu Thai official said Friday.

Speaking a day after Thanathorn declared he is running for the top job, the source said he’s “not sure” if a majority of Pheu Thai MPs will accept the decision. Media reports said Thanathorn announced his bid after Pheu Thai leader Sudarat Keyuraphan told her party she will no longer pursue the premiership.

But a previous agreement within the party dictated that Sudarat would quit the race in order to pave way for a prime ministerial candidate from either the Democrat or Bhumjaithai parties, not Future Forward, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Read: EC Asks Court to Rule on Disqualifying Thanathorn

Thanathorn, 40, proposed himself as a candidate at the Future Forward headquarters on Thursday evening. He said he hopes to break the state of political deadlock.

“In a few days, parliament will be opened on May 24 and the new House Speaker chosen on May 25. Yet uncertainty is still pervading our society,” Thanathorn said at a news conference. “In order to end that uncertainty, Future Forward Party would like to announce that it will lead the formation of a coalition government.”

He continued, “We believe that only Future Forward Party can unite and bring together various conflicting political parties to work together for the same objective, which is to send soldiers back to the barracks.”

Thanathorn previously said the top government seat should go to Pheu Thai, which won the largest number of seats in the March 24 election. Pheu Thai holds 136 seats, while Future Forward placed third at 80.

Citing unnamed Pheu Thai sources, local media agencies said Sudarat told her aides in a meeting several hours prior to Thanathorn’s announcement that she was willing to sacrifice her shot at the top job for the sake of unity.

Sudarat also reportedly told her party that she will settle for the position of House Speaker instead.

Speaking at his party, Thanathorn also said he will reach out to Democrat and Bhumjaithai members himself and invite them to join as coalition partners.

Thanathorn said he believes the junta-appointed Senate won’t dare to intervene and vote for their own choice of prime minister if his coalition secures enough MP seats.

On the same day, the Election Commission asked the Constitutional Court to rule on whether Thanathorn must be stripped of his MP seat for allegedly holding stakes in a media firm after he registered to run in the election. Thanathorn denied the allegations.

Additional reporting Teeranai Charuvastra