The BGA Thailand Team, led by Managing Director Teerasak “Art” Siripant, wrote an update to clients on the National Assembly’s vote to elect Thailand’s next prime minister.


  • Thailand’s National Assembly failed to elect the country’s next prime minister when it convened on July 13. The vote took place nine days after the House speaker and deputies assumed their positions and nearly two months after a general election that saw the junior Move Forward Party emerge with the most seats. Pheu Thai Party leader Cholanan Srikaew nominated Pita Limjaroenrat, the Move Forward Party leader, as the prime ministerial candidate. Pita was the sole candidate for the first premiership vote.
  • Parliament concluded a two-hour voting session with Pita securing 324 votes in his favor, 182 votes against and 199 abstentions in the first round, falling short of the 375 votes needed to become premier by 51 votes. House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha (Wan Noor) said the session will resume on July 19 and July 20 to revote for the new prime minister.
  • The outgoing prime minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, announced his departure from politics and resignation from the 36-strong United Thai Nation Party. This move may be designed to help the party reunite with the Palang Pracharat Party and its 40 MPs, which would increase Palang Pracharat’s bargaining power and ability to form a government. Prayut will hope to be appointed as privy councilor for political protection and to secure a role above the fray.


  • A day before the premiership vote, the Election Commission announced its decision to forward a case on Pita’s alleged media shareholdings to the Constitutional Court. The Election Commission’s decision has triggered small-scale protests in Bangkok and provincial centers around the country. Pro-democratic activist groups have since gathered in front of Parliament to pressure members of Parliament (MPs) and senators to support the people’s choice.
  • Bangkok’s atmosphere is tense and ominous, with more demonstrations expected in the coming days. The protests, street mobilizations and social media campaigns will likely gather pace in anticipation of the next premiership vote and the court’s potential suspension of Pita’s MP status. Nevertheless, street protests are not unprecedented in Thai politics, and BGA expects them to be manageable as long as the parliamentary process satisfies the public.


  • The Election Commissions’ and Constitutional Court’s combined maneuvers to thwart Pita’s premiership were expected. Pita and Move Forward stand for far-reaching reforms that directly challenge the preferences and interests of the old guard in Thai politics. If Pita is disqualified, Pheu Thai would get to nominate its prime ministerial choice of either Srettha Thavisin or Paetongtarn Shinawatra, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s youngest daughter.In that case, Move Forward would need to decide whether it would stay in a coalition government with a Pheu Thai prime minister. Pheu Thai is split on this prospect: the old guard within Pheu Thai favors flipping to form a coalition with other parties, including pro-military camps; the younger MPs want to rebuild the party by remaining with Move Forward.
  • It is conceivable that the bulk of senators will not vote for a Move Forward or Pheu Thai prime ministerial candidate if the largest-winning party remains in the coalition. Conservative forces may want Move Forward to be out of the government, fearing its proposed reforms of the military, monarchy and other institutions. This would isolate Move Forward, and Pheu Thai could come under pressure to partner with pro-military parties, perhaps in exchange for Thaksin’s return from exile.
  • Bangkok and other parts of Thailand are at greater risk of demonstrations now that the case against Pita has been brought to the Constitutional Court. Businesses should be mindful of the tense political environment until a new government is formed, and they should continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds. Despite ominous signs and precarious circumstances, street protests, if they erupt, are unlikely to disrupt day-to-day business operations.

We will continue to keep you updated on developments in Thailand as they occur. If you have comments or questions, please contact BGA Managing Director Teerasak “Art” Siripant at

Best regards,

BGA Thailand Team