After 'historic' win for Thai opposition, complex coalition talks loom
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's opposition leader Pita Limjaroenrat said on Monday he was ready to become the next prime minister, after his Move Forward Party finished first in an election that crushed parties allied with the military-backed establishment.
But complex negotiations lie ahead, including with fellow opposition party Pheu Thai, as they seek to build a governing coalition.
Following is reaction from political analysts, economists and business groups.
THITINAN PONGSUDHIRAK, CHULALONGKORN UNIVERSITY
"Pheu Thai fought the wrong war, the populism war that it already won. Move Forward takes the game to the next level with institutional reform. That's the new battleground in Thai politics.
"This is a staggering result. It's historic."
SUSANNAH PATTON, THE LOWY INSTITUTE
"Thai voters clearly endorsed a major change of government after nearly a decade of military rule.
"However, the very strong result for the Move Forward party... makes the coalition-building process that will come next difficult, as much of its agenda, like the reform of the lese majeste law, is unacceptable to the conservative forces who dominate the Thai Senate."
JAY HARRIMAN, BOWERGROUPASIA
"The result is a clear rejection of Thailand's old-style politics represented by the Prayut government, and even of Pheu Thai party who lost a majority of seats in the Shinawatra family's home province of Chiang Mai.
"Businesses are looking for a smooth political transition, supported by policy reforms that improve the ease of doing business, including cutting red-tape, managing cost drivers, and reducing corruption.
"Move Forward's reform agenda puts the military and monarchy in the direct crosshairs so tensions could heighten if the next government moves aggressively on its campaign pledges."
TITIPOL PHAKDEEWANICH, UBON RATCHATHANI UNIVERSITY
"Move Forward cannot take anything for granted. Pita (Limjaroenrat) has assumed that they can form a government with Pheu Thai. But there is still the equation that Bhumjaithai (party) may gather others and Pheu Thai as well to form another type of coalition."
VISHNU VARATHAN, MIZUHO BANK
"It appears that the political stability implied in the 'Goldilocks' outcome may be fuelling the baht's rally.
"The absence of a 'super-majority' for the Move Forward/Pheu Thai coalition, which may challenge the ability to pass bills, is perversely a positive for political stability."
ZACHARY ABUZA, NATIONAL WAR COLLEGE
"The will of the people is likely to be thwarted again. I just don't see the Senate respecting popular will; they were created and appointed to do one thing, maintain the conservative-royalist hold on politics."
TAMARA LOOS, CORNELL UNIVERSITY
"This is a moment of great opportunity for the military-backed parties and PM Prayuth to graciously accept that Thai voters desire a change in the status quo."
GRACE LIM, MOODY'S INVESTORS SERVICE
"Should the new government comprise a large and diverse coalition of parties, it will likely weigh on the speed at which policies can be agreed on and implemented.
"While we expect broad policy continuity on key economic policies, such as the continued development of the Eastern Economic Corridor to lift investments, political parties may differ on the details and other areas such as social and fiscal policies."
VIJAY VIKRAM KANNAN, SOCIETE GENERALE
"A faster resolution to the coalition, will be deemed as positive to market sentiment, in our opinion, as opposed to more protracted discussions.
"Until the coalition risks are resolved, the baht could remain volatile."
(Compiled by Chayut Setboonsarng, Panu Wongcha-um, Poppy McPherson, and Rae Wee; Editing by Martin Petty, Kanupriya Kapoor)