Phue Thai Leaves 8-Party Alliance MOU, Seeks to Form New Government Coalition
Updated: Sep 1
After a brief morning discussion with the Move Forward Party (MFP), the Phue Thai Party (PTP) issued a press release announcing its withdrawal from the 8-Party alliance MOU. The departure is driven by apparent disagreements with both other parties and the senators, who are reluctant to accommodate MFP's fixation on the amendment of article 112, the lese majeste law. This move promptly dissolves the former 8-Party alliance and initiates the process of forming a new coalition, potentially with parties from the former government coalition.
The recent political move in Thailand doesn't surpass the expectations of ourselves or other observers. Indeed, we had foreseen this scenario prior to the election. However, the unexpected triumph of the MFP with 151 seats, over the PTP at 141, delayed the process.
In its official statement, the PTP made clear their stance:
"PTP will not support the amendment of Article 112, and the formation of a new government will not include the MFP in the coalition. The PTP will strive to gather votes sufficient for the establishment of a proper government, while the MFP will act as the opposition. We will insist on working in politics in a new dimension that benefits the nation and the people. PTP's important missions include:
Pursuing an amendment to the current constitution, which has hindered government formation and caused various national crises. PTP will set this as a national agenda, starting with a cabinet resolution at its first meeting, followed by a referendum and the creation of the Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) to facilitate genuine public participation in amending the constitution. Upon completion, the government will return power to the people to vote again under the new constitutional framework.
Advancing policies consistent with those presented to the public by the PTP and its allies. These include marriage equality laws, progressive liquor regulations, reforming bureaucratic systems, transforming compulsory military conscription into a voluntary system, and more. PTP will push for decentralization in terms of missions and budgets, abolish monopolies, and promote fair trade competition across all industries. As the main government party, PTP is committed to working with allied parties to successfully implement policies that benefit the people."
Following the PTP's press release, the MFP's secretariat general, Chaitawat Tulaton, issued a statement expressing regret that they cannot continue to follow the people's mandate as previously hoped. Contradicting the PTP, the MFP asserts that they were never asked to abandon the amendment to Article 112 in discussions. The statement cites resistance from other parties and senators to include MFP in any government coalition, subtly hinting that Article 112 may not be only the underlying cause for PTP's withdrawal from the 8-party MOU.
The PTP is set to make another press release announcing the formation of a new government coalition on tomorrow, one day ahead of the national assembly meeting scheduled for the election of the prime minister on Friday, August 4, 2023. In a parallel development, Chuwit Kamolvisit has issued a statement, reminding the public of his earlier prediction that the PTP would depart from the former 8-party alliance. Additionally, he plans to unveil possible conflicts of interest in Srettha Thavisin's conduct during his tenure as CEO of the stock-index-registered public company, Sansiri. Chuwit's move seems likely to cast further doubt on Thavisin's prospects for the premiership.
Further analysis from our PulsarWave model:
Model analysis: The deepest clue to why this happened seems to be rooted in the fundamental disagreement over the amendment of Article 112, the lese majeste law. This disagreement reveals not only tactical differences but perhaps more significantly, deeper ideological divides that reflect larger societal tensions within Thailand, particularly regarding the role and sanctity of the monarchy and freedoms of speech.
The PTP's withdrawal suggests a carefully considered strategic realignment. Their refusal to support the amendment, along with the announced intention to form a new government coalition, seems to be a maneuver to consolidate power in line with their own political agenda. By positioning themselves in this way, they may be aiming to attract support from like-minded parties or individuals who share their perspective on the amendment issue and broader governance approaches.
What happens next is likely to be a complex and rapidly evolving series of political negotiations and realignments. The imminent announcement of a new government coalition by the PTP will no doubt set the stage for further political maneuvering in the lead-up to the election of the prime minister. Other parties may respond with counter-alliances or policy shifts, all with the underlying goal of gaining leverage in the ongoing political chess game. Additionally, the investigation into Srettha Thavisin's conduct may add further complications, potentially affecting his standing and influence within the broader political landscape.
In the short term, we can expect intense political negotiations, shifting alliances, and public posturing. In the longer term, these developments could lead to substantial shifts in Thai political power dynamics, policy directions, and potentially even the legal framework around crucial issues like freedom of speech and the role of the monarchy. The fluidity and intricacy of Thai politics at this juncture underscore an environment ripe for unexpected turns and complex outcomes.
The Delicate Balance of Constitutional Monarchy System
Thailand's recent political developments, including the withdrawal of the Phue Thai Party (PTP) from the 8-Party alliance, illustrate the complexities of governing within a constitutional monarchy system. Like oil and water, monarchy and democracy can seem fundamentally different, with one concentrating power in the hands of one individual and the other distributing power among many. Yet, through the "solvent" of a constitution, these two systems can be made to mix and form a constitutional monarchy. Thailand's system, like others in countries such as Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, combines hereditary monarchy with constitutional limits, offering continuity, stability, and a unifying symbol while also incorporating democratic principles of accountability.
In a constitutional monarchy, the monarch's powers are restricted, and a separate government runs the country's day-to-day affairs. However, as the PTP's recent political maneuverings illustrate, the balance can be delicate. Too much power in the hands of the monarch, and the democratic essence of the system can be threatened. Conversely, if the monarch's role becomes too diminished, people may question the point of having a monarchy at all. Thailand's history of military interventions and political coups further shapes the perception of the monarchy, a symbol of both stability and tension.
The delicate equilibrium between monarchy and democracy is evident in cultural factors, the monarch's role, and democratic principles within Thailand. The monarchy enjoys cultural acceptance but also sparks controversy, as seen in proposed amendments to Article 112, the lese majeste law. The king's ceremonial role, juxtaposed with political involvement, remains a contentious issue contributing to the current political realignment. The struggle to maintain democratic rules while preserving the monarchy's sanctity reflects the need for a careful and constant balancing act, akin to an oil-water-solvent mixture. This balance is key to understanding the underlying debate over lese majeste laws and the broader complexities of Thailand's constitutional monarchy system.