Thai politics prior to August 2023 were characterized by speculation about the next prime minister and alliances between different parties. Srettha Thavisin from the Pheu Thai Party became prime minister while Thaksin Shinawatra returned from exile. The new governing coalition has brought together former ideological adversaries, confusing many Thai citizens.

Key Points

  • The formation of an unusual alliance between the populist Pheu Thai Party and pro-royalist conservatives has left many Thais confused about their loyalties.
  • The return of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his subsequent royal pardon have further polarized Thai politics and raised questions about the influence of the monarchy.
  • Despite promises of democracy, the new government’s alignment with the military and appointment of inexperienced ministers suggests that the preservation of power remains the top priority for Thai autocrats and the monarchy.

The political landscape in Thailand leading up to August 22, 2023 was marked by a sense of unpredictability and conjecture. Following the general election in May, there was a great deal of interest in who would assume the role of prime minister and how the established authorities would impact the final decision.

Thai Politics in a State of Uncertainty

Speculation was rife that Prawit Wongsuwan, the former deputy prime minister and leader of the Palang Pracharat Party, would assume the prime minister’s seat. Rumors spread about a possible deal between the monarchy and the autocrats.

Three months after the election, the covert political battles between the Pheu Thai Party, the conservative political alliance, and the military-appointed senators were exposed, undermining Prawit’s chances of attaining power.

Political Events Unfold in Thailand

On 22 August, two significant political events took place in Thailand. Srettha Thavisin from the Pheu Thai Party was appointed as prime minister, and Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister, returned from 15 years of exile. Thaksin’s return was met with mixed reactions, as he paid homage to the king and queen but was immediately escorted to jail. However, he was granted a royal pardon, reducing his jail time.

Unusual Alliances and Divisions

Thailand finds itself facing an unexpected alliance forming the new governing coalition. The pro-democracy red shirts support the Pheu Thai Party, while the pro-royalist yellow shirts oppose Thaksin and are aligned with pro-military parties. This alliance has left many Thais questioning their loyalties.

The political divisions in Thailand can now be categorized into three groups: steadfast supporters of their leaders, disillusioned supporters of their political camp, and supporters of the Move Forward Party, now serving as the opposition.

Fragile Alliances and Lack of Trust

Although the conservative camp and Thaksin’s camp are currently aligned, mutual trust is lacking. The military remains a key factor, as the government now appears to support its interests to prevent another coup. The past months have shown that the interests of the Thai people have not been a top priority for the autocrats and the monarchy, who prioritize preserving their power.

Overall, the political landscape in Thailand remains uncertain, with alliances subject to change and the influence of the Thai people appearing minimal.

Daungyewa Utarasint is Visiting Assistant Professor at New York University Abu Dhabi.

Read original article here : : Strange bedfellows form Thailand’s ruling government

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