BANGKOK, THAILAND — Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Thursday deferred a decision in a case challenging parliament’s refusal to allow election winner Pita Limjaroenrat a second shot at becoming prime minister.
The move prolongs Thailand’s political deadlock, nearly three months on from elections that routed army-linked parties that had ruled for nearly a decade, with progressive parties struggling to overcome resistance from conservative forces in the Senate.
Pita, whose reformist Move Forward Party (MFP) won the most seats in the May polls, was rejected as prime minister in a joint vote of both houses of parliament last month, then denied the chance to be renominated a week later.
The kingdom’s ombudsman referred the decision to the court to determine if it was in line with the constitution.
On Thursday, the court said it needed more time and evidence to decide whether to accept the case and would consider it on August 16.
“The Constitutional Court has considered that the request requires thorough deliberation as it includes the administrative principle in the constitutional monarchy system, so the Court has decided to postpone the deliberation to study more information,” it said in a statement.
House speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha said that a third vote for prime minister scheduled for Friday would now have to be pushed back.
“The vote for the prime minister tomorrow is postponed — we will have to wait for the Constitutional Court decision on August 16,” he told reporters.
The developments come a day after MFP dropped out of a coalition trying to form a government, now led by Pheu Thai, which came second in the election.
Pheu Thai has said property tycoon Srettha Thavisin will be its nominee for prime minister, and the party is expected to announce a new coalition later Thursday.
Without MFP’s 151 seats, Pheu Thai has been in talks with other parties to build a parliamentary majority.
This has included some parties involved in the outgoing army-backed coalition government, to the disgust of MFP supporters and even some of Pheu Thai’s own followers.
MFP rode a wave of support from young and urban Thais weary of years of military rule to claim a stunning victory.
But its plans to reform Thailand’s tough royal defamation laws and tackle business monopolies that dominate the economy saw it run into bitter resistance from the kingdom’s powerful establishment.
Pita’s prime minister bid crashed on the rocks of opposition from the Senate — whose members were handpicked by the last junta — and numerous parties made it clear they would not support any government involving MFP.
So despite winning the most votes and most seats, MFP has agreed to go into opposition, insisting it can still effect change despite not holding power.
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