18 August 2023

“UTN will join the Pheu Thai government...”

Democracy Monument

United Thai Nation has joined Pheu Thai’s coalition, confirming a longstanding suspicion that Pheu Thai would rely on the support of pro-military parties to form the next government. UTN spokesman Akaradej Wongpitakroj told a press conference yesterday afternoon: “We want the country to move forward so UTN will join the Pheu Thai government”. UTN’s thirty-six MPs brings the coalition’s total to 274, which is a majority in the House of Representatives. More pressingly, UTN’s involvement will make the junta-appointed senators more likely to endorse Pheu Thai’s prime ministerial candidate, Srettha Thavisin.

UTN was founded as a political vehicle for Prayut Chan-o-cha, who led a coup against Pheu Thai in 2014, though Prayut announced his retirement last month. Pheu Thai’s executives had categorically denied any plans to work with either of the two military parties—UTN and Palang Pracharath—though their coalition lacked a parliamentary majority. (Despite the support of Bhumjaithai and seven smaller parties, they had only 238 seats.) This made an alliance with the military almost inevitable, though it has angered many pro-democracy Pheu Thai voters.

On 16th August, the Constitutional Court declined to rule on parliament’s rejection of Move Forward’s second attempt to nominate Pita Limjaroenrat as prime minister, arguing that Pita himself had not personally petitioned the court. With no legal requirement for parliament to vote again on Pita’s nomination, Pheu Thai will instead nominate Srettha on 22nd August. Palang Pracharath’s MPs have confirmed that they will vote for Srettha, though he will not receive Move Forward’s votes as Pheu Thai withdrew from Move Forward’s anti-military bloc.