Thursday, June 16, 2011

Possible Formulas of Government Formation After Election in Thailand

In the next 19 days, the results of the general election will dictate the direction of Thai politics. Each political party has adjusted its strategy in the last phase of the run-up to the general election, while poll agencies have released their survey results to incite psychological effect on supporters of each political camp.
Choices of 'partnership formulas' for the government formation have been unveiled to the public to test public sentiment, while some political parties have hinted that they have loosely formed their alliances before making final decision when learning the results of the coming general election.
Key Factor
The key factor is the election results. They will indicate that all political parties will end up in which of the government formation formulas that have been envisioned at the moment. In the first formula, the Phuea Thai Party, could lead the formation of the next government in the case that the party won more than half of the House seats, or more than 250 seats. If the Phuea Thai could win up to 270 seats as it has boasted, there would be no problem in their effort to form a government.
The partnership formula of the Phuea Thai, the Chatphatthana Phuea Phaendin and the Chat Thai Phatthana could be a combination of around 300 House seats. They would be able to form a rather stable government.
However, there is a key condition. The Phuea Thai must win more than half of the House seats. This is not easy for the party even though survey results from several poll agencies have affirmed that that the party was more popular than the Democrat Party in several constituencies. At the same time, key members of the Democrat have insisted that their information showed that the Democrat still enjoyed about the same level of popularity as the Phuea Thai Party.
Other Formula
In the next formula is the partnership between the Phuea Thai, Chatphatthana Phuea Phaendin, other smaller parties and Chatthai Phatthana Party. We might see this formula if the Phuea Thai won the majority of the House seats, but failed to win 250 seats. The Phuea Thai then would have to work hard. Apart from the Chatphatthana Phuea Phaendin Party that is ready to join the Phuea Thai-led coalition, the Phuea Thai would have to secure its ties with as many smaller parties as possible. Those smaller parties are, for example, the Phalang Chon, Matuphum, Kitsangkhom and Rak Santi Party.
If the Phuea Thai could secure its control over 250 House seats, it would have the leverage to attract the Chatthai Phatthana to join its coalition government and help boost the stability of its coalition. Otherwise, the Democrat would get the chance to form the government even though it could win less House seats. We have already seen that in the past the Democrat Party had managed to gather enough votes in the House to form a coalition government amid crisis and to remain in power until the recent House dissolution.The scenario has continued to haunt the Phuea Thai, prompting the party to demand the Democrat Party to promise not to try to form a coalition government at the same time as the Phuea Thai in the case that it won lesser House seats. The Phuea Thai has also recited criticism against the Democrat that is related to the 'invisible hand' or 'the formation of a government in a military barrack.' Another formula that people have kept an eye on is the partnership between the Democrat Party, the Phumchai Thai, the Chatthai Phatthana and the Ruam Chatphatthana Phuea Phaendin Party.
Stable Coalition Government Likely
Certainly, in this formula, the Democrat Party needs to win enough House seats. If it did not win more House seats than the Phuea Thai, the margin between the two parties' House seats must be small. Then, the Democrat would have enough leverage to secure its partnership with other political parties and to form a stable coalition government.
However, if the Democrat Party could win higher House seats than the Phuea Thai and control the majority of seats in the House, it could easily convince its former coalition parties, that are the Phumchai Thai, the Chatthai Phatthana and the Ruam Chatphatthana Phuea Phaendin Party, to join its coalition government, and would not need to partner with smaller parties.
Nevertheless, in this formula, there are problems about medium-sized parties that might want to get cabinet seats of the same ministries that they had got in the previous coalition government. But the Democrat may not agree on such condition. As Aphisit Vejjajiva has said earlier, the Democrat wants to control the Interior and the Commerce Ministry itself. The negotiation in this formula would take quite some time.
Feasible Government Formula
After all, if all major parties failed to win significant portions of House seats as many have anticipated and medium and small-sized parties won enough seats to gain leverage over the direction of the government formation, the formula that the next prime minister could be a reconciliatory or alternative prime minister who is not from the two major parties as Newin Chitchop has mentioned earlier could be another feasible government formula that should not be ignored.
The reconciliatory prime minister formula could comprise the Chatthai Phatthana Party with Major General Sanan Khachonprasat, the party's chief advisor, as the prime minister, the Phumchai Thai Party, the Chatphatthana Phuea Phaendin Party and the Phuea Thai Party.
Certainly, whether or not we would see the reconciliatory prime minister formula depends on the Phuea Thai's decision to sacrifice the prime minister seat. In the case that it is not the only party that win the majority of House seats and it could not let the Democrat Party have a free hand in garnering support from other parties and form a government, it is certainly better for the Phuea Thai to be a ruling party with the majority of House seats while its candidate will not be the prime minister. It is better than allowing the Democrat to become the ruling party again. For this reason, the formula of conciliator or reconciliatory prime minister will certainly not include the Democrat Party. This is because the Democrat Party will only support Aphisit to be the next prime minister.
For the last formula which has been pushed forward by the Chatthai Phatthana, the Democrat Party and the Phuea Thai Party may together form a government. However, due to the total difference in political approaches and ideologies between the two parties, this formula is not feasible from the beginning.
Last, on what formula of the government formation would be used, we would have to first wait for the results of the July 3 election, which will be the most important factor.

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