Country Risk

Pro-military government increases likelihood of policy delays in Thailand; heightened risks of parliament dissolution beyond one-year outlook

14 May 2019

Current Thai prime minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha votes on 24 March in Bangkok, Thailand. Source: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

The Thai Royal Gazette on 14 May published a royally approved list of 250 senators, alongside 50 alternative candidates. This follows 11 one-seat political parties in the lower house announcing their support for incumbent General Prayuth Chan-o-cha as prime minister and the pro-military government Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) leading the new government. The Election Commission has finalised the vote count for 498 out of 500 lower-house votes, which saw key parties in the seven-party anti-National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) camp - Pheu Thai (PT) and Future Forward Party (FWP) - lose seven seats in the party-list segment, narrowly missing a majority in the lower house.

  • A pro-military premiership in Thailand is almost guaranteed, with political bargaining ongoing among the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) and swing parties. Official results conclude that the Pheu Thai (PT) is the biggest party, followed by PPRP and the Future Forward Party (FWP). However, no alliance has an absolute majority yet. The election landscape remains divided into three camps - pro-National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) camp led by PPRP, anti-NCPO led by PT and FWP, as well as swing parties led by the Democrat Party (DP) and Bhumjaithai (BJT). That said, the most likely scenario remains a PPRP-led coalition of at least 126 members of parliament (MPs), with support from 250 senators to vote in a pro-military candidate as prime minister, with a less likely scenario being the selection of privy council member Ampon Kittiampon or BJT leader Anutin Charnvirakul, both with close connections to the palace.
  • General Prayuth Chan-o-cha's position as prime minister will be determined by the palace, whose preferred candidate remains uncertain. Prayuth's ineffectiveness in addressing the political divide between political parties and lack of popular support during his tenure as prime minister has likely made the palace hesitant to continue supporting his retention of power.

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