Thai lawmakers dash hopes of would-be PM

Lawmakers have blocked Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of Thailand’s reformist Move Forward party, from becoming prime minister. Earlier the same day (Wednesday), a court suspended him from parliament for owning shares in a defunct media company.

Pita and his party won the largest chunk of votes in May’s election as voters rejected Thailand’s decade of military-backed rule.

But to be appointed PM, he then had to convince a majority of lawmakers in both houses. And with Thailand’s current senate being military-appointed, it was an uphill climb for any candidate pledging to upend the status quo.

In the end, a majority of lawmakers not only blocked Pita’s bid to become PM, but also stopped him from re-nominating. So it may be the end of the road for Pita.

Intrigue’s take: This whole saga has had more plot twists than Gone Girl. Parliament reconvenes on 27 July and there are a few possible scenarios:

  1. The second-largest party (Pheu Thai) could put forward its own candidate, perhaps dropping Move Forward to win over the senate
  2. The military could (again) intervene and install another loyalist as prime minister, claiming a need to restore stability, or
  3. A third option could emerge, like the current deputy PM (a former army chief whose party came 4th).

But… it’s hard to see how any of these military-leaning options could enjoy broad support after May’s stunning election results. So strap yourself in.

Also worth noting:

  • Pita’s Move Forward party had pledged to reform Thailand’s strict laws on criticising the monarchy. The military has long invoked its duty to protect the monarchy to justify its political interventions.
  • Move Forward supporters and other protesters are now planning to hold a mass march.
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