People Power Party MP elected as Thailand’s new House Speaker

By Xinhua

Bangkok : Thailand’s People Power Party (PPP) MP Yongyuth Tiyapairat was elected as the House Speaker at the first parliamentary meeting on Tuesday.

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Yongyuth, former deputy leader of PPP, got 307 votes while his only rival — Democrat Party MP Banyat Bantadtan got 167 votes during an hour-long balloting by the newly-elected lawmakers, whose victory in the Dec. 23 general election.

PPP MP Chai Chidchob, who was selected as the acting Speaker as he is most senior member, chaired Tuesday’s meeting for MPs to elect the House Speaker and two deputy Speakers.

PPP party executives and MPs reached an agreement after a meeting Monday to nominate Yongyuth as the party’s only candidate for the House Speaker post. Meanwhile, the PPP’s five coalition partners — Chart Thai, Matchimathipataya, Puea Pandin, Pracharaj and Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pattana parties, had agreed to not contest the House Speaker and two Deputy Speakers positions on Monday, according to PPP spokesman Kudep Saikrachang.

Yongyuth’s victory had been widely anticipated among political observers as the 480-seat House was controlled by PPP and its allies.

The PPP has won 233 seats in the Dec. 23 election and on Saturday announced a coalition government with the other five parties.

The Democrat Party, with 165 seats, sit alone on the opposition bench in the House.

Yongyuth, 47, who had been elected as a MP several times and served as Natural Resources and Environment Minister in the coup-ousted administration of Thaksin Shinawatra, resigned Monday from the job of PPP deputy leader and executive to clear the way for him to become the House Speaker, because the Constitution does not allow the House Speaker to hold an executive position in a political party.

The voting for the first and second Deputy House Speaker is still underway, with PPP MPs Somsak Kiatsuranont and Apiwan Wiriyachai being the leading contenders.

The House is scheduled to elect a new Prime Minister on Friday, with PPP leader Samak Sundaravej strongly tipped as the leading candidate.