By Thai Newsroom Reporters
IT WILL BE VERY UNLIKELY for the Pheu Thai Party to score a landslide victory in the next general election because the largest opposition camp will undeniably see the likes of the Move Forward Party contesting as their archrivals, according to a noted political scientist.
Thanaporn Sriyakul, president of Kasetsart University’s Political Science Association, forecast that the Pheu Thai Party, “practically owned” by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, will find it very unlikely to get as many as 250 MPs or more in the next general election to meet his landslide target since their bases of support among constituents nationwide will be quantitatively shared by the Move Forward Party.
Given common bases of popular support, especially among young voters in the 2019 general election, the Future Forward Party, earlier legally dissolved by court and practically renamed as the Move Forward Party, managed to get 80 MPs in their first-ever electoral campaigns, compared to 136 MPs secured by the Pheu Thai Party, resurrected from the dissolved People’s Power Party and Thai Rak Thai Party.
The speculated tug of war over votes in both constituency-based and party-listed modes between the Pheu Thai Party and Move Forward Party will make it unlikely for the former to score landslide triumphs as had been the case in the 2011 general election which landed Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, the premiership only to be overthrown in the 2014 coup orchestrated by army chief-turned-premier Prayut Chan-o-cha, according to the Kasetsart academic.
Thaksin, viewed by some people as spiritual leader of the Pheu Thai Party and by others as de facto owner of the party, has repeatedly bragged about his prediction of landslide wins for his camp which might be subsequently capable of setting up a post-election government of their own and manage to bring him back home after about 16 years of self-exile overseas.
“The Pheu Thai Party would undoubtedly find the Move Forward Party as a sharper thorn in the side than the Palang Pracharath Party, given their shared bases of popular support throughout the country.
“The Pheu Thai Party would virtually prefer to keep a distance as far apart as possible from the Move Forward Party particularly when it comes to the contentious amendment to Section 112 for which the latter has been constantly pushing,” Thanaporn said, referring to the lese majeste law.
Some members of the Thaksin’s camp have remained non-committal toward any attempts either inside or outside of the political arena to amend the draconian lese majeste law whilst others have downplayed the complicated legal issue and a few coalition partners have bluntly raised objections.
In the meantime, the rank and file of the Pheu Thai Party would almost certainly follow a roadmap designed by “the party’s owner” for ways and means to join the Palang Pracharath Party, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, in fresh effort to set up a coalition government after the next general election, Thanaporn said.
A Pheu Thai/Palang Pracharath coalition might possibly be set up on condition that Prayut who has been allowed by court to prolong his rule for about two more years after the next general election be no longer named a Palang Prachaarath candidate for prime minister again, the political scientist said.
However, it remains to be seen whether Prawit may choose to join Thaksin’s camp in a possible coalition government in which, Thanaporn said, the Prayut regime will be practically maintained to some extent or to help Prayut himself prolong his rule.
The Kasetsart academic said the Prayut regime could probably survive over a Pheu Thai/Palang Pracharath coalition though Prayut himself may no longer be given the chance to remain in power after the nationwide race to parliament, speculated early next year.
Thanaporn forecast that the Pheu Thai Party will see a slight increase in the number of elected MPs from the previous election which will not amount to 250 to meet the much-heralded landslide target whilst the predicted total of Palang Pracharath MPs will largely drop from the previous election which accounted for 115 MPs.
The Bhumjaithai Party, de facto led by former cabinet member Newin Chidchob, which got 51 MPs in the previous election, is forecast to get “too many MPs”, thus surpassing the need for the possible setting up of a Pheu Thai-led coalition which might be given votes of decisive support from 250 unelected senators, many of whom are believed to practically remain under control of the Palang Pracharath boss.
Top: Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat, left, and Paetongtarn “Oong-ing” Shinawatra, head of Pheu Thai Family, right.
Front Page: Pheu Thai Party logo, left, and Move Forward Party logo, right. Both photos: Matichon Weekly