Who will become PM if Srettha is removed by a charter court ruling?

BANGKOK: Amid political turmoil, analysts are pondering over the future of the coalition government, including who will become Thailand’s 31st prime minister should incumbent Srettha Thavisin be removed by a court ruling in response to a petition filed by outgoing senators.

Six of the nine Constitutional Court judges on Thursday (May 23) voted to accept the petition from 40 senators seeking to remove Srettha as PM. The petition accused Srettha of violating political ethics by appointing Pichit Cheunban as PM’s Office Minister even though he had once been jailed for contempt of court.

The court did not suspend the PM from performing his duties, but demanded from him a written explanation on June 7. It is estimated that the court would deliberate on the case for two to three months before issuing a verdict.

Some analysts fear that the case could spell the end of Srettha’s career. The business tycoon entered politics in the May 2023 general election as one of Pheu Thai’s PM candidates.

If Srettha were to be removed, the Constitution stipulates that Parliament must vote for a new premier from the PM candidates proposed at the last election by political parties who have at least 25 MPs (maximum three candidates per party). The winner must receive more than half of the votes from the lower house, or 250 out of 500 MPs.

Judging from these criteria, there are six parties with 25 MPs and more that had proposed prime ministerial candidates to the Election Commission during the May 2023 general election. The roster of those who could potentially succeed Srettha as PM can therefore be extrapolated from the following:

1. Pheu Thai Party, with 141 MP seats, proposed three PM candidates: Srettha, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, and Chaikasem Nitisiri. It is believed that Paetongtarn, who is the daughter of Pheu Thai patriarch and former PM Thaksin, has a better chance than Chaikasem, a former justice minister and Pheu Thai head of political strategy.

2. Move Forward Party, with 151 MP seats, proposed only Pita Limjaroenrat as PM candidate. With the party in the opposition camp still fighting a dissolution case over its pledge to amend the lese majeste law, the chance of Pita becoming the next PM is slim to none.

3. Bhumjaithai Party, with 71 MP seats, had proposed its leader Anutin Charnvirakul as PM candidate. Anutin will have a shot at premiership if his party somehow takes the lead in the government coalition.

4. Palang Pracharath Party, with 40 MP seats, proposed its leader General Prawit Wongsuwon as PM candidate. Believed to be the one behind the 2014 military coup, Prawit’s chance of becoming PM is not so promising.

5. United Thai Nation Party, with 36 MP seats, proposed former PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha and Pirapan Salirathavibhaga as PM candidates. Prayut, however, is no longer eligible as he is now a privy councilor.

6. Democrat Party, with 25 MP seats, proposed former leader Jurin Laksanawisit as a PM candidate. With the party in the opposition camp and not enough support, Jurin has almost no chance of becoming PM. - The Nation/ANN

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Thailand , Srettha , PM , replacement , court


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