The daughter of Thailand’s exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra has announced her intention to run for prime minister in this year’s election, as the opposition strives to retake power eight years after being deposed by a coup.
Paetongtarn Shinawatra, whose father Thaksin and aunt Yingluck Shinawatra previously headed administrations overthrown by the military, will run under the Pheu Thai Party, the newest version of a populist organization started two decades ago by her affluent family.
“Yes, I am prepared,” she told reporters late on Sunday (15 January) in northeast Thailand, the rural bastion of the Shinawatras, which has given them extraordinary majorities in five elections since 2001.
“We want the party to win the election by a landslide so that we can keep our promises to the people,” she stated.
In the 2019 election, Pheu Thai, which is immensely popular among the rural and urban working classes, gained the most seats but was unable to form a government.
The removal of Shinawatra-aligned administrations by the military and the courts has fueled Thailand’s apparently intractable political dilemma, which has ebbed and flowed for over 17 years.
Paetongtarn, 36, has participated in party rallies over the last year and has topped opinion surveys for prime minister candidates in recent months, far ahead of incumbent Prayut Chan-o-cha, who as army leader ousted Yingluck’s administration.
Both Yingluck and Thaksin are residing abroad to evade prison terms imposed by the military government.
Since 2014, Prayuth has been in control, first as junta leader and then as prime minister chosen by parliament following a 2019 election that, according to his detractors, was held under conditions meant to keep him in power. He claims he earned the position honestly.
Last Monday, Prayuth, 68, joined the new United Thai Nation Party, alluding to a campaign to stay prime minister.
He has yet to dissolve the legislature, and elections must be held by the end of May.