Updated Jul 19, 2023, 1:02pm EDT
politicsSoutheast Asia

What it means: Thai parliament blocks progressive leader Pita’s bid for prime minister

REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

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The News

Thailand’s parliament on Tuesday blocked progressive opposition leader Pita Limjaroenrat from his prime ministerial bid despite his party securing an unexpected victory in May elections.

A motion to block his bid for the role was passed 395 to 312 with eight abstentions. There was no indication of when parliament would vote again on a new prime minister.

We’ve gathered insightful reports and analysis on what to know about the “charismatic” leader and the challenges to Thailand’s democratic future.

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  • The surprise win of Pita’s Move Forward party earlier this year was partly due to the 2020 student-led pro-democracy protests urging reform of the country’s “undemocratic politics,” writes democratic politics expert Petra Alderman. But the “charismatic” Pita’s path to becoming Thailand’s 30th prime minister “was always going to be difficult, if not impossible” because of how the country’s political system was designed under the rule of the 2014 military junta. While Pita’s party win was a step in the right direction, Thailand’s democratic future depends on the conservative establishment “and its willingness to let go of power.”
  • Pita was temporarily suspended as a lawmaker after the country’s Election Commission accused the 42-year-old of violating election laws by not disclosing his media shares in ITV before running for office. But ITV has not broadcast for 15 years and was delisted by Thailand’s Stock Exchange in 2014, Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch, noted. He said the Commission was “weaponizing law” to deny the democratic rights of the Thai people.
  • Pita has said that he would allow another candidate from another party in his coalition to run for prime minister. The contenders include real estate tycoon Srettha Thavisin, Paetongtarn Shinawatra who is the daughter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and Chaikasem Nitsiri, the party’s chief strategist. But if a candidate from the coalition cannot win parliamentary approval, “there will be pressure to assemble a new coalition” without Move Forward whose “position on royal reform is seen as the stumbling block to a compromise.” — The Diplomat