Thailand’s prime minister, a former general, has joined a new party, leaving the ruling Palang Pracharat party in crisis. Two other parties, Pheu Thai and the Phak Kao Klai, are leading the opposition; both are heirs to parties dissolved by Thailand’s Constitutional Court.
Bangkok (AsiaNews) - Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha plans to dissolve the Thai parliament next Monday with elections to take place on 7 May. This would set the stage for a campaign pitting pro-military parties established after the 2014 coup and those opposed to military power and the traditional elites who rule the country of 65 million.
Created five years after the military seized power, the ruling People's State Power Party (Palang Pracharat) has a narrow majority in parliament; made up mostly of former senior military, is currently in crisis.
Prime Minister Prayut, a former general, joined a new party, the United Thai Nation Party (Ruam Thai Sang Chart), to save his own political career rather than out of political outlook or new policy proposals.
The opposition to the pro-military parties includes the For Thais Party (Pheu Thai), which is led by Paethongtarn Shinawatra, 36, daughter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Its base is outside the big cities, centred on redistributive policies and curbing the power of the military and traditional elites.
Another important opposition force is the Move Forward Party (Phak Kao Klai), which de facto replaced the Future Forward Party (Phak Anakhot Mai). The latter was created by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, an important Thai businessman and marathon runner, but was dissolved by the Constitutional Court in 2020.
Pita Limjaroenrat, another important businessman, leads the new party, offering modernity, progress, and an end to the politics and interests of the old elites.
Three factors have shaped the politics of the Southeast Asian country. The first is the series of coups d'état in the - sometimes bloody, but always at the expense of freedom.
The second is the role of the monarchy and the interests of the oligarchs who rely on the military to keep the "Land of Smiles" under control but at the cost of stifling its full development.
The third factor is the military’s inability to govern. Not only have they failed to keep their promises in terms of growth and development, but by cracking down on civil society groups and the political opposition, they have not lived up to their claim that their coup of 22 May 2014 (the 12th since 1932) was meant to inject some ethics in the country’s political life.
The Palang Pracharat, set up to give a civilian façade to military rule, played a key role after the 2019 elections, the first in eight years.
With its allies, it won 247 seats out of 500 in the lower house (House of Representatives), while the 250 members of the upper house (Senate) are appointed by the Armed Forces.
This system was supposed to bring a long period of democracy and "social peace" after years of political turmoil that included street protests that began with the September 2006 coup against the government led by Thaksin Shinawatra.
Forced to flee, the latter has continued to play a key role in the affairs of the parties that took up the mantle of his Thais love Thais party (Thai Rak Thai), which was dissolved for alleged violations of the electoral law.
The Pheu Thai party won the 2011 elections when it was led by Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister Yingluck Shinawatra, but it too was dissolved by the Constitutional Court, just before the latest coup.