Thai parties start coalition deal-making

Thailand's political parties got down to hard bargaining on Monday after voters roundly rejected last year's military coup but failed to give supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra an outright majority.

Thai parties start coalition deal-making
The deal-making was likely to be long, complex and fraught with tension after Sunday's vote showed a country polarised between Thaksin supporters in the People Power Party (PPP) and opponents represented mostly by the Democrat Party.

"There is still plenty of room for mischief," the English-language Bangkok Post said in an editorial. "Other groups, including the military, must abide by the election decision."

PPP leader Samak Sundaravej, who says openly he is a proxy for Thaksin, said he would "certainly" be prime minister and invited small parties to join his own 228 seats in the 480-member parliament to form a coalition government.

Two of the crucial minor parties—Chart Thai (Thai Nation) and Puea Pandin (Motherland), with 65 seats between them—would act together and take their time making a decision, Chart Thai leader and former prime minister Banharn Silpa-archa said.

In the Thai system, parliament must meet within 30 days of the election and then has a month to elect a prime minister, with Samak the clear front-runner as all the non-PPP parties together would have only 252 seats, a razor thin majority.

In the meantime, the Election Commission appointed by the military after the September 2006 bloodless coup that ousted Thaksin can disqualify winning candidates for abuse of election rules and says it will probe about 160 serious complaints.

The fear, analysts say, is that the army and Thailand's old elite are likely to be calling in every favour possible to stop Thaksin making a comeback by proxy, including putting pressure on the Election Commission to whittle down PPP numbers.

"At every step in coming days and weeks, the EC must be seen to be doing exactly the right thing in every decision," the Bangkok Post said.

With the Democrat Party holding 166 seats, PPP's possible partners are five small middle-ground parties—Chart Thai, Peua Pandin, Ruam Jai Thai, Matchima and Pracharat—none of which stand out as obvious bedfellows.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Aralık 2007, 12:27
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