Party to name Prawit as sole PM candidate
The Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) is planning to overhaul its executive board, with its leader Prawit Wongsuwon looking set to be nominated as the party’s sole prime ministerial candidate in the next election.
The move follows reports that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is preparing to part ways with the ruling party to join the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party, also known as the Ruam Thai Sang Chart.
While officially not a member of the PPRP, Gen Prayut was nominated by the party as its “outsider” candidate in the 2019 general election.
Deputy PPRP leader Wirach Ratanasate, said the party will hold a general assembly on Jan 14 to select new executives. That said, he noted that Gen Prawit will remain as party leader.
MPs representing a constituency will be excluded from the board as they will be busy preparing for the upcoming election, he said.
The House’s four-year term is due to expire in March, with the next election expected in the first half of next year.
He said the PPRP would hold a fundraising event for its election campaign at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center on Jan 25.
Mr Wirach said while the party has made good progress in selecting candidates to run in the next election, Gen Prawit will remain in charge of election campaigns in Bangkok.
Key party figures have also been assigned to oversee campaigns in different regions, Mr Wirach said, adding that the party’s candidates for all 400 constituencies will be unveiled ahead of the planned fundraiser.
When asked about the recent shift by PPRP MPs to other parties, he said that is normal ahead of elections, adding MPs from other parties will also move to the PPRP.
These include Anwar Salae, a former Pattani MP from the Democrat Party, Mr Wirach said.
Asked about how many House seats for Bangkok the PPRP aims to secure in the next election, Mr Wirach said that it is premature to discuss the matter.
“In the previous election, some had predicted that the PPRP would secure only 20 House seats. That was a serious underestimation because, as it turned out, we secured almost 120. In the coming election, we will hope for the best,” he said.
Asked whether Mingkwan Sangsuwan, the former leader of the New Economics Party (NEP) who joined PPRP earlier this month, is still with the party, Mr Wirach said that he was working on an assignment related to economic affairs given by Gen Prawit.
Mr Wirach downplayed reports that Mr Mingkwan might be upset after the ruling party pledged to nominate Gen Prawit as its sole prime ministerial candidate in the next election.
Shortly after announcing that he had officially joined the PPRP, Mr Mingkwan told the press that Gen Prawit had promised to nominate him as one of the party’s prime ministerial candidates, which instantly drew criticism from some key party figures.
Since the party has made it clear that Gen Prawit will be nominated as the party’s sole prime ministerial candidate, some observers doubt Mr Mingkwan will stay.
On Wednesday, the PPRP held a press conference to unveil 55 candidates for the next election. They include a group of expelled PPRP MPs led by Capt Thamanat Prompow, a former PPRP secretary-general.
After his expulsion, Capt Thamanat joined the Setthakij Thai Party and went on to assume the party leadership before resigning in October.
Setthakij Thai was home to 18 MPs, including Capt Thamanat, expelled by the PPRP for acting as renegades.