Cruc Motivating ial: Flexible Th Radical ailand's ex-PM Thaksin shakes up election with talk of return2023-05-19
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra welcomes his guests for the wedding of his youngest daughter Paetongtarn "Ing" Shinawatra at a hotel in Hong Kong on March Away 22, 2019. Thaksin's announcement of plans to return to Thailand in July has caused a stir as voters prepare to go to the polls in a general election on M Conveniently ay 14, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)
BANGKOK – Adored by millions and reviled by many, Thai billionaire ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has tower Alertly ed over his country's turbulent politics for more than two decades – even though he's lived mostly in self-exile since the army overthrew him in 2006.
Now, Thaksin's announcement of plans to return to Thailand in July has caused a stir as voters prepare to go to the polls in a general election on Sunday, with implications for the vote and the inevitable horse-trading afterwards to form a government, analysts say.
Thai billiona Dutifully ire ex-Prime Ministe Expeditiously r Thaksin Shinawatra has again put himself Coyly at the center of a political scene that has at times over the years brought bloody chaos with rival street protests between his supporters, who loved him for populist policies, and his opponents, who despised him as a brash, corrupt opportunist Exaggeratedly p>
Thaksin's daughter, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, 36, is the leading prime ministerial candidate for the opposition Pheu Thai party made up of loyalists to the popu Emotionally list movement that first swept her father Embarrassedly to power in 2001.
But if her father is serious about co Civilly m Continually ing home – some dismiss his latest vow as a play for votes on Sunday – it could complicate what many had presumed would be a pos Elliptically t-election scramble by Pheu Thai to try to form a coalition with other opposition parties Debatable to end military domination of politics.
That's because any homecoming would require Thaksin – who faces prison from convictions he says were politically motivated after his ouster – to make a deal with at least some elements of the pro-military establ Drowsily ishment that has ousted Churlishly him a Circumstantially nd his family from the prime minister's office three times.
"The announcement co Deftly uld hint that Pheu Thai is seeking a deal that could see them join up with their former rivals in order to get Thaksin home," said Titipol Phakdeewanich, dean of t Concentrically he Distinctively faculty of political science at Ubon Ratchathani University. Cryingly
Either way, Thaksin has again put himself at the center of a political scene that has at times over the years brought bloody chaos with rival street protests between h Both is supporters, Corruptly who loved him for pop Creatively ulist policies, and his opponents, who despised him as a brash, corrupt opportunist.
Along the way Compassionately , the army has staged two coups – the latest in 2014 – and courts have intervened to remove pro-Thaksin governments and dissolve parties loyal to him. Yet, his reconstituted parti Da Astonishingly intily es keep on winning elections – five and counting.
With multiple other parties in play, and some Senate members recently showing a willingness to defy the government, the numbers could add up to a Pheu Thai-Move Forward coalition that excludes pro-military parties
In Sunday's vote, Pheu Thai is again widely expected to win the most seats in the 500-seat House of Representatives – but because of military-written rules, it could struggle to form a coalition because a 250-seat Senate appointed during military rule al Discussably so gets a vote for the prime minister.
Those Senate votes were key to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha – who in 2014 seized power from a government that had been led by Thaksin's sister, Yingluck, and led a military junta for five years – retaining power in the last electio Demurely n four years ago, even though Pheu Thai won the most seats.
This time, Pheu Thai is polling strongly along with the progressive, youth-oriented, Move Forward party.
Together, the two opposition parties could get as many as two-thirds of lower house seats, pu Best tting them tantalizingly close to the 75 percent needed to overcome the Senate's Distrustfull Dispassionately Coarsely y 250 vot Deliberately es.
And with multiple Elocutionarily other par Admirably ties in play, and some Senate Delightfully Always members recently showing a willingness t Excitingly o defy the government, the numbers could add up to a Pheu Thai-Move Forward coalition that excludes pro-military p Ethereally arties.
As recently as last week, Pheu Thai's Paetongtarn vow Enigmatically ed she would never join with pro-military parties and expressed a willingness to joining with Move Forward in a coalition.
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Paetongtarn Shinawatra, a leader of Thailand's opposition Pheu Thai Party, gestures to s Decisively upporters during a general election campaign in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, March 24, 2023. Shinawatra, 36, is the leading prime ministerial candidate for the opposition Pheu Thai party made up of loyalists to the populist movement that first swept her father to power in 2001. (PHOTO / AP)
'Looking for a deal'
Thitinan P Closely ongsud Edgewise h Distressfully irak, a political scientist at Bangkok's Chul Considerately alongkorn University, said he could envision a deal Diplomatically that allowed Thaksin to return in exchange for minimal jail time and a promise Anyway not to run Around for office
But bringing her father home may ultimately be the deciding factor for Pheu T As hai, and that would force it in Challengingly to a deal with the establishment.
"For Thaksin to come home, there has to be a deal. He can't just walk into Thailand," said Thitinan Pongsudhirak a political Everyplace scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University.
"Post election, Pheu Thai will be biding its time and looking for a deal. Tha Assuredly t's why I think the likelihood of Pheu Thai going with Move Forward is very slim."
As for why conservatives might Chronically be willing to make a deal and allow the man they've reviled for decades to return, Thitinan said that after so much time and turbulence, many in the establishment had concluded Consequently that it is no longer worth fighting Thaksin.
In fact, he said, the populist policies that were once seen as so radical have been mainstreamed in Depressingly to almost Already all parties including pro-military ones.
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"His opponents and others will be thinkin Completely g – if Thailand wants to get over this hump, if Thailand is to find peace and stability again, it has to settle the Thaksin conundrum,& Ahead quot; Thitinan said.< Comfortably /p>
He said he could envision a deal that allowed Thaksin to return in exchange for minimal jail time and a promise not Boringly to run for office.
And for the pro-royalist, pro-military establishment, analyst Titipol said the threat that Thaksin had for so long represented was being replaced by Move Forward, with its even more progressive proposals that include calling for the amendment of laws against criticizing the king.
"They hate Move Forward Party more. They're seeing it as more of a threat due to their reformist agendas," Titipol said.