Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej plans to buy time by reshuffling his Cabinet in a big way, then wait till his government can pass the fiscal-2009 budget next month and reshuffle the military and civil servants in September, before dissolving Parliament as a last resort.
This is the collective assessment by members of the coalition government of the latest political developments, which have gone against Samak and the People Power Party (PPP) as a whole.
The coalition members believe that by September, Samak - if he can hang on - may find his government in a stronger bargaining position to call an early election if the government really needs to go.
Samak and his entire Cabinet are under fire after the Constitution Court ruled 8-1 that the government violated Article 190 of the Constitution by failing to submit the Preah Vihear communique to Parliament for approval first. This constitutional breach could lead to the impeachment of the entire Samak Cabinet by the Senate. The Democrats are also pondering a move to impeach Samak and Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, as well as PM's Office Minister Choosak Sirinil, the government's legal expert.
The Supreme Court also found PPP deputy leader Yongyuth Tiyapairat guilty of vote buying. This will set in motion the dissolution of the party over the next four to six months.
"We all realise passage of the budget is most crucial to all parties, including the PPP," said one coalition member. "We've also sent a signal to the prime minister that if he wants to salvage the entire Cabinet, he must cut off the bad meat. This means Noppadon must be sacked."
But between now and September is a long road, while Samak is facing a series of legal hurdles that could jeopardise his position as prime minister.
Samak is under investigation for possible violation of the Constitution by hosting a cooking programme. He is also appealing a libel case that carries a jail term. A Japanese contractor recently confessed to paying a bribe of Bt120 million to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration in 2003 while Samak was city governor. And Samak also faces corruption charges related to the procurement of a fleet of fire trucks during his same term as governor.
If Samak were to resign, the PPP would try to field a new "nominee" prime minister. But as 37 executive members of the party may be disqualified from politics in the impending party dissolution case linked to Yongyuth's red card, the choices for a new prime minister from the party are very few. Commerce Minister Mingkwan Sangsuwan may be one of the few ideal candidates left.
If the PPP steps aside by allowing Banharn Silapa-archa, head of the Chat Thai Party, to become prime minister, that would be another possibility. In 1975 MR Kukrit Pramoj became prime minister even though his Social Action Party controlled only 18 MPs in Parliament.
Suchit Boonbongkarn, a former dean of Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Political Science, said the PPP - Noppadon in particular - should show responsibility over its management failure by agreeing to serve in the opposition bloc.
"There are several options for the government, without having to resort to a House dissolution," he said. "I would like the PPP to serve in the opposition bloc and open the way for other parties to form the government."
Suchit was implying that Abhisit Vejjajiva, head of the Democrats, should be given a chance to form a new government with other coalition partners. But the chance of Thailand having a non-elected prime minister is almost impossible, because a constitutional amendment would be needed or a coup would have to occur.