Crescent Kashmir

Biggest bloc in Thai legislature faces uphill battle

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BANGKOK: Thailand’s king opened parliament on Monday following a shock election result in which the pro-democracy opposition trounced army-backed parties that have ruled the kingdom for nearly a decade.

The Move Forward Party (MFP) won the largest share of votes in the May 14 election but their radical platform, which includes reformation of the strict royal defamation law, may see them struggle to form a coalition government.

Their eight-party coalition bloc, including the second-largest party Pheu Thai, remains short of the required majority in the lower house to surpass the non-elected Senate chamber and successfully nominate a prime minister.

The election was seen as a national rejection of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, a former army chief who came to power in a 2014 coup.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, accompanied by his wife Queen Suthida, reminded the rows of white-uniformed MPs of their duty to represent the people of Thailand.

“The progress of the nation will be up to your intellectual ability and your honesty,” he said in brief prepared remarks. “If everyone realises this, the work will achieve success smoothly,” he said.

It was the first time the king has opened parliament in its new home, a gigantic structure on Bangkok’s riverside. Nominations for the powerful house speaker position will be submitted on Tuesday.

Although there is no set timeline, the house speaker will select the date when MPs will vote for the prime minister.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2023


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