BANGKOK: Thai prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat may have sufficient support from political allies to form a government after an electoral victory on Sunday (May 14).
But when it comes to his race for the premiership, there remains one obstacle that could hold him back from the finish line: The 250 senators in the Upper House, whose votes could determine Thailand’s next prime minister.
Forty-two-year-old Pita – the leader of the progressive Move Forward Party – and his eight-party coalition have secured 313 seats in the 500-member House of Representatives.
For Mr Pita to win the premiership, he needs the approval from more than half of the 750-seat National Assembly, or at least 376 votes in either the House of Representatives alone or the Senate too.
This is where complications arise.
The coalition needs 63 more votes for its prime ministerial candidate Mr Pita to become prime minister, but several senators seem undecided on whether they will support his premiership, while others have made it clear they will vote against him.
One of them is Mr Jadej Insawang. He told local media on Tuesday he will vote against Mr Pita because he disagrees with his stand on the royal defamation law.
“I view that this approach is intended to belittle the monarchy,” he said.
Political observers view the issue as a political fault line in present-day Thailand, where calls for reform of the monarchy have been heard since pro-democracy demonstrations led by youths three years ago.
Mr Pita and his party support the amendment of the royal defamation law to prevent it from being used as a political tool.