No Junta, No Pheu Thai: Anutin Teases Coalition With Democrats

Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul shakes hand with Democrat Montree Panoinon in a photo Anutin posted on May 20, 2019.

BANGKOK — Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul said on Tuesday evening he is “working” with the Democrats, raising speculation over a possible alliance.

In photos posted on his Facebook profile, Anutin can be seen chatting, sharing a meal and shaking hands with two senior Democrat officials. Their apparent meeting came just as rumors that Bhumjaithai and the Democrats are planning their own government coalition reached new heights.

“We’re working together right now. We aren’t here just for a meal,” Anutin captioned the photos of him with Democrat officials Chalermchai Sri-on and Montree Panoinon.

The leader of Bhumjaithai, who secured 51 out of 500 seats in the March election, did not give any further context. But media reports in recent days said some Bhumjaithai and Democrat leaders are considering an alliance independent of the rival coalitions currently led by pro- and anti-junta parties.

A Democrat-Bhumjaithai bloc – controlling a combined 103 MPs – would then invite other smaller parties into its fold and install a government with Anutin as the next prime minister, media reports said.

A source said on Wednesday that Anutin and Chalermchai agreed at yesterday’s dinner to ask members of their respective parties for their opinions on the idea.

No one from either the Democrat or Bhumjaithai parties would discuss the rumors on record. Speaking to the media earlier this week, Anutin said he is not yet committed to any side in the ongoing struggle to set up Thailand’s next government.

Nearly two months have lapsed since Thais went to polls on March 24 and parliament is set to open on Friday. Yet no party has emerged so far with a majority to form government and select a prime minister.