LIKE IT OR NOT, PALANG Pracharath leader Prawit Wongsuwan will be the most likely person to become prime minister after an upcoming general election despite the likelihood of a failure on his own part to win most MP seats.
That Prawit will likely have the largest chance of winning the top post of government among all partisan contestants will by no means pertain to a number of MP seats which the Palang Pracharath may get in the nationwide election, speculated in early or mid-May, but will decisively hinge on the hands of a coup junta-appointed army of 250 senators, according to political observers.
Prawit who has been strongly resolved to contest the general election as the sole Palang Pracharath contender for prime minister has so far emerged as the only man who may eventually join ranks with either side of the current political spectrum, be it the Ruam Thai Sang Chart, de facto steered by coup leader-turned-premier Prayut Chan-o-cha, or the Pheu Thai, de facto guided by deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Needless to say, that the Pheu Thai which has been heralding a landslide victory and the Ruam Thai Sang Chart which has been endorsing Prayut’s design to retain power for two more years will ever join hands with each other is ultimately out of the question.
Straddling over the path to power is nobody else but Prawit who is more or less believed to be capable of manipulating a coalition government with himself taking the helm, according to the political observers personally connected with partisan sources.
Prawit who is largely viewed as a man of compromise, a wheeler-dealer and a kingmaker as had been the case in which he had manipulated to land Prayut the premiership after the 2019 election could potentially talk the Pheu Thai and Bhumjaithai, among others, into joining hands with the Palang Pracharath to set up a coalition in spite of the likelihood of his own camp being outvoted in the general election by the Pheu Thai.
Nevertheless, despite the likelihood of the Pheu Thai scoring the much-heralded landslide triumph, none of Thaksin camp’s partisan contestants for prime minister, especially including his daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra, will be accepted by the senators who will almost certainly vote either for Prayut or Prawit for prime minister since both had handpicked them as unelected lawmakers following the 2014 coup, they concluded.
The Palang Pracharath boss has appeared to have more confidence in himself rising to power since a third person among a trio of Pheu Thai partisan candidates for prime minister was roughly mentioned by somebody but was quickly denied by Thaksin’s daughter, noted a political observer.
Former foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai has been more or less speculated but categorically ruled out by Paetongtarn despite the fact that the party’s executive board has not as yet made a decision on the official naming of anyone among the trio of partisan candidates for prime minister.
Thaksin who was said to have quietly preferred Surakiart as the No.1 choice among the Pheu Thai trio will be busy finding another person in lieu of Surakiart or else he will definitely have to manipulate the naming of the former foreign minister as the third candidate once and for all.
Nevertheless, Thaksin might probably change his mind and pick a third Pheu Thai candidate virtually as a puppet just to fill up the trio’s list now that roadside portraits of his youngest daughter have mushroomed in Bangkok and the provinces, said a political observer personally connected with partisan sources.
But Senator Wanchai Sonsiri known as loyal to Prawit commented his fellow lawmakers merely saw Paetongtarn as one of Thaksin’s children running around without charisma or experience quintessentially demanded of a national leader.
The outspoken senator has ironically advised the Pheu Thai make an all-out effort after the race to parliament to see to it that they get no less than half the total of MPs and senators combined, or at least 376, probably by way of an alliance with other anti-junta camps so they could turn off the senators’ power for good. The junta-designed constitution empowers the unelected senators with the right alongside the elected MPs to vote a partisan candidate for prime minister.
If the landslide victory involved the likelihood of the Pheu Thai getting 250-plus MPs plus others of the like-minded camps but came short of half the total of MPs and senators combined, it would be ultimately to no avail as far as the 250-strong, anti-Thaksin senators are concerned.
In such scenarios, most, if not all, of the senators will certainly vote in support of the Palang Pracharath boss who might probably come up as an unrivalled candidate for prime minister.
Thanaporn Sriyakul, head of Kasetsart University’s Political Science Association, forecast that the Pheu Thai will not make a landslide victory as widely anticipated and that Thaksin will quietly manage to bow to Prawit’s desire to take the helm with the Pheu Thai being a major part of a coalition government.
Thaksin would afford to do anything to satisfy Prawit who would return favours by managing to bring him back home after 16 years in self-exile overseas despite his having already been sentenced by court to 12 years in prison for varied misconduct charges, according to the Kasetsart academic.
Thaksin himself earlier admitted the probability of Prayut giving way to Prawit’s rise to power if the former who will undoubtedly never afford to come to terms with the deposed premier’s camp gets less MP seats than the latter.
Given Prawit’s upper hands in the race to premiership, Thaksin and his followers among the Pheu Thai rank and file could do nothing other than see to it that they secure as many votes as possible from among the people nationwide in both constituency-based and party-listed modes.
Remarkably, the Move Forward and Pheu Thai will very likely continue to share popular bases of support from among constituents nationwide.
But when it comes to Gen-Y and Gen-Z voters, especially the first-time ones, the former are largely expected to win incomparably more votes over the latter.
In the meantime, the Ruam Thai Sang Chart will be preoccupied with ways and means to steal popular bases of support from the Palang Pracharath, the Bhumjaithai, de facto steered by Newin Chidchob, and the Democrats, especially in southern constituencies.
Among all parties, the Ruam Thai Sang Chart which is contesting for the first time is legally obliged to get no less than five percent of the total of 500 MPs or at least 25 to be eligible to name Prayut who fears retribution after he has been no longer in power a partisan contender for prime minister.
Palang Pracharath leader Prawit Wongsuwan. Top: Photo: Matichon, Front Page photo: Thai Rath
First insert: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Photo: Thai Rath
Second insert: Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatara. Photo: Thai Rath
Third insert: Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatara’s daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra. Photo: Thai Rath
Fourth insert: Bhumjaithai de facto leader Newin Chidchod. Photo: Matichon