Major players in Thailand’s election

This combination photo shows (clockwise from L) Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaking in Bangkok on 24 October, 2018, Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit in Bangkok on 27 February, 2019, Pheu Thai party prime ministerial candidate Sudarat Keyuraphan speaking in Bangkok on 5 March, 2019, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva speaking in Narathiwat on 2 March, 2019 and Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul greeting supporters in Ayutthaya province on 8 March, 2019. (Handout / Lillian Suwanrumpha / Madaree Tohlala / AFP / Bhumjaithai Party)

With elections mere days away, the number of parties contesting for the hearts and minds of Thai voters is overwhelming. The Pheu Thai Party has formed several splinter parties with all of them vying for seats. There are also parties with propaganda aimed at inciting conservative Buddhists against the secular government in Bangkok accused of favouring Muslims.

The ASEAN Post has decided to zero-in on some of the major political parties involved and look at their separate agendas and main objectives. 

The political parties selected here are based on the latest polls conducted by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA), the Bangkok University’s Bangkok Poll, and the Khon Kaen University E-Saan Poll. The political parties mentioned in all three polls were: Pheu Thai Party, Future Forward Party, Thai Raksa Chart, Phalang Pracharath, Democrat Party, and the Bhumjaithai Party. The Thai Raksa Chart party has been left out of this article as it has been dissolved by order of Thailand’s Constitutional Court.

Pheu Thai Party (For Thais Party)

Source: Various

The Pheu Thai Party is the third incarnation of the Thai political party founded by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The Pheu Thai Party was founded on 20 September 2008, as an anticipated replacement for the People's Power Party (PPP), which the Constitutional Court of Thailand dissolved less than three months later after finding party members guilty of electoral fraud. The PPP was a replacement for Thaksin's original Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT) which the Constitutional Court also dissolved in May 2007 for violation of electoral laws.

Future Forward Party

Source: Various

The Future Forward Party is a political party that was founded in March 2018 by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, former Vice President of the Thai Summit Group, and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a legal scholar. In September 2018, the Future Forward Party was officially recognised by the Election Commission, allowing the party to start registering members and to raise funds. The party’s main focus has been the youth and disenfranchised. 

Phalang Pracharath (People's State Power Party)

Source: Various

Phalang Pracharath is a Thai pro-military and conservative political party established in 2018 by Chuan Chuchan and Suchart Jantarachotikul, a retired army colonel who was a classmate of Prayut Chan-o-cha at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.

The party is led by former Prayut cabinet ministers Uttama Savanayana, Sontirat Sontijirawong, Suvit Maesincee, and Kobsak Pootrakool. In the upcoming election, Palang Pracharath's candidate for prime minister will be current prime minister and military junta leader, Prayut.

Democrat Party

Source: Various

The Democrat Party is the oldest party in Thailand. It was founded as a conservative and royalist party, and now upholds a conservative-liberal and classically liberal pro-market position.

The Democrat Party made its best showings in parliament in 1948, 1976, and 1996. It has never won an outright parliamentary majority. The party's electoral support bases are southern Thailand and Bangkok, although election results in Bangkok have fluctuated widely. 

Bhumjaithai Party (Thai Pride Party)

Source: Various 

The Bhumjaithai Party was founded on 5 November, 2008, in anticipation of the 2 December, 2008 Constitutional Court of Thailand ruling which dissolved its "de facto predecessor", Neutral Democratic Party, along with the People's Power Party (PPP), and the Thai Nation Party. After the dissolutions, former members of the Neutral Democratic Party and members of the PPP faction, the Friends of Newin Group defected to this party.

Bhumjaithai has a populist platform, drawn from Thaksin's populist Thai Rak Thai party, and the People's Power Party.

These are only a handful of political parties that will join the fray come 24 March, the first election Thailand will see since the military coup of 2014. There are still many other political parties that have a good chance of seeing their prime ministerial candidates becoming the next prime minister of Thailand while even more political parties have a chance of representation in Parliament. The choice, as always, is in the hands of the voters.

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