The ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) and the opposition Move Forward Party (MFP) nominated candidates for prime minister over the weekend, therefore establishing the lineup for Thailand’s next general election.
While nominations are not official until parliament’s term finishes and the Election Commission marks the beginning of campaign season, the PPRP declared on Friday that its sole candidate will be Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.
After Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha became the new United Thai Nation Party’s candidate, Prawit’s candidacy was virtually certain (UTN). The 77-year-old Prawit was Prayuth’s mentor in the army and his deputy since the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) was founded following the 2014 military takeover.
Prayuth stood as the PPRP’s candidate in 2019, while stating that he was a soldier and not a politician. He campaigned in a southern province for the first time as a UTN member on Saturday.
“I must assure consistency. Within two years, I will transform the country for the better,” Prayuth remarked.
The prime minister stated that he was rushing to complete infrastructure projects and enhance the welfare program. In addition, he claimed credit for the government’s COVID-19 reaction and economic recovery with increasing tourism revenue and international investment inflows, especially from Saudi Arabia, with which Thailand resumed diplomatic relations this year after a three-decade hiatus.
As a result of Prayuth’s separation from the PPRP, MPs in the ruling coalition are competing for control of populist measures like as the state benefit card. The PPRP has committed to increasing the monthly benefits of 13.5 million cards from 200 or 300 baht to 700 baht (about $21). Thais with incomes of less than 100,000 baht per year are eligible for the giveaway.
The majority of Thais, however, disagree that a gap exists between the two men. According to a recent poll conducted by the National Institute of Development Administration, over sixty percent of respondents believe that the PPRP is attempting to lure voters who are unlikely to reelect Prayuth in order to form a coalition government with the UTN.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn approved new election rules on Friday, allowing Prayuth to disband parliament at any moment. However, the prime minister stated that he would “not yet” dissolve it in order to allow the Election Commission sufficient time to prepare. The defection of a sufficient mass of PPRP legislators to the UTN and the Bhumjaithai Party has effectively stalled parliamentary voting for the final two months of the current session.
The MFP’s campaign plan to reform the judicial system and remove military influence from government institutions would revolve upon eradicating the NCPO’s legacy and dissolving its affiliated parties. The party promised to draft a new constitution and hold a referendum within the first 100 days of its administration.
The MFP sought to widen its appeal among older age groups by requesting that voters consider the changes that had occurred over their lives.
“If you are 20 years old, you grew up during the coup d’etat, but the coup leader remains prime minister… If you are between 50 and 60 years old, you lived up when Thailand was a developing nation, but our nation is still in the process of developing,” Parit Wacharasindhu, campaign policy manager for the MFP, stated. If you are 100 years old, you grew up during the transition to democracy, yet it is currently impossible to determine who controls the country.
Executives of the MFP were cautious not to demand for revisions to the monarchy on Saturday, instead denouncing restrictions on free expression. Members of the party introduced a measure to amend Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, the so-called lese-majeste provision that criminalizes insults to the king, in the previous year. Parliamentary leaders swiftly rejected it as unlawful.
Pita and the party’s founder Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit attended public demonstrations in favor of Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong, two young pro-democracy activists on hunger strike since January 18. The couple’s requests, which included justice system reform and the release of convicts accused under Section 112, have not been satisfied.
Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the 36-year-old daughter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has been nominated by the MFP’s opposition partner, Pheu Thai. In the most recent Nida survey, Paetongtarn continues to lead with 34% support, followed by Prayuth with 14% and Pita with 14%. Pheu Thai tops party lists with around 43%, followed by the MFP with approximately 17%. Parties in the ruling coalition are trailing by a little margin.