Democrats Claim Ability To Form Government In Thailand -- Bangkok
The Democrat party in Thailand is claiming to have enough votes to form a government and elect their leader Abhisit Vejjajiva as Prime Minister. They gained enough votes when Newin Chidchob's faction of MPs, formerly with the now-disbanded People Power Party joined them on Saturday. Also moving in with the Democrats was Sanan Kachornprachart and 15 former members of the Chart Thai party which also disbanded after the Constitional Court found that they, along with the PPP and the Matchima Thipataya parties, had engaged in election fraud in last year's national election on Decenber 23.
This supposedly gives the Democrats 250 votes out of a total of 447 members of the Thai parliament. Not mentioned in any news reports here in Thailand is when the members will vote. originally, it was to have been on Monday, December 8 but that was postponed last Friday as the various parties and unaffiliated members continued to wrangle over who would go where and vote for whom.
Both the Democrats and the members who have pledged their support to the Democrats have denied any other motivation for the decisions made by members other than the fact that they are interested in helping the country move forward out of the political impasse that has existed for almost three years and left Thailand in a weakened and demoralized conditioned.
Normally, a fair amount of horse trading would go on as members and parties worked out who would be appointed to what plum assignments in terms of minister appointments and other patronage postions. It would be hard, nothwithstanding the claims made above, to believe that the same process didn't run its course over the last few days but the more interesting point will be in seeing whether this coalition holds together and also what the reaction will be from Thaksin Shinawatra's supporters.
After the PPP was ordered disbanded by the court, many of the PPP members -- the ones not banned from politics for five years, that is -- formed the Pheu Thai party which is vying with the Democrats for leadership of the country. It was widely assumed here that they would prevail as they still had more members than any other party. The defection of Newin's and Sanan's groups was unexpected and leaves Pheu Thai without the numbers they need.
Even Thaksin's now ex-wife, Pojaman, got into the act, returning to Thailand a few days ago ostensibly to visit her ailing mother. Although she was convicted on tax evasion charges she is free on bail pending appeal. Apparently, she tried unsuccessfully to sway Newin to the Pheu Thai side but he refused to take her calls, according to reports.
The most important point now is when the election of a new Prime Minister will take place and there will be more news from here as soon as it becomes available.