Thaksin’s political comeback: A masterstroke or misfire?

Photo courtesy off The Nation

Former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra, despite facing charges under the lese-majeste law, is plotting a grand comeback. Engaging with influential political figures and major families, the 74 year old former prime minister plays the long game with a cunning new strategy.

Thaksin is abandoning the 100-party list MP seat strategy, focusing instead on the 400 constituency MP seats, a tactic offering greater opportunities. Reviving his old playbook from the Thai Rak Thai Party, he’s rallying key families from various regions under the Pheu Thai banner.

Political analysts predict that despite potential setbacks, the popularity of the Move Forward Party (MFP), or the “Orange Warriors,” will persist, making it tough for Thaksin and Pheu Thai to counter their momentum. Thaksin’s strategy is clear: consolidate support from major families early to prevent them from joining the Orange camp.

Thaksin launched his campaign on May 24 in Nakhon Ratchasima province, where Pheu Thai won 12 out of 16 MP seats in the 2023 election. The urban areas, however, saw MFP’s success, prompting Thaksin to negotiate with Suwat Liptapanlop of the Chart Pattana Party for a potential alliance.

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In Pathum Thani, Thaksin aims to revive red shirt support. The 2023 election saw MFP win six out of seven MP seats. Thaksin hopes the upcoming Provincial Administrative Organisation (PAO) elections will serve as a rematch, with Chan Puangpet running against Police Lieutenant General Kamronwit Thoopkrachang.

June 12 saw Thaksin in Nonthaburi, celebrating Mayor Somnuk Thanadechakul’s birthday and securing his return to the red camp. With MFP winning all eight seats in the 2023 election, Thaksin’s efforts to rally support here are crucial.

Next, Thaksin plans to tour Nakhon Pathom, negotiating with the influential Sasomsap family to rejoin Pheu Thai. In the 2023 election, the Sasomsaps’ territory saw a split among Chart Thai Pattana, Move Forward, and United Thai Nation, reported The Nation.

ORIGINAL STORY: Thaksin Shinawatra declares war on MFP in Nonthaburi

In a dramatic comeback, paroled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra pledged to reclaim all parliamentary seats in Nonthaburi Province from the Move Forward Party (MFP), setting the stage for a fierce political battle.

Thaksin, without directly naming the MFP, made his intentions clear.

“In the last General Election, all Parliament seats in Nonthaburi were taken from us, but we will win them back. It is our mission, and we have to do it for the country.”

Historically, Nonthaburi, an adjacent province to Bangkok, had been a fortress for Thaksin’s political influence through his now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party and the subsequently established Pheu Thai Party. However, in last May’s General Election, the MFP managed a clean sweep, capturing all eight House seats in the province.

Thaksin made these remarks while attending a surprise birthday celebration for Somnuek Thanadechakul, the mayor of Nonthaburi, whom Thaksin described as a “long-time ally and friend.” Somnuek, who turned 79, was praised by Thaksin for his loyalty.

“Khun Somnuek was persuaded to leave me politically, but he refused. Now that I’m back, Khun Somnuek must not leave me.”

Since ending his self-imposed exile in August last year to be closer to his family, Thaksin has been active behind the scenes, influencing the political strategies of the ruling Pheu Thai Party. After being granted parole on three corruption convictions in February due to his age and severe illness, he appears to be more involved in political manoeuvres than ever.

Thaksin’s appearance at Somnuek’s birthday, where he presented the mayor with a bouquet of red roses, was a significant political statement. The event, held at a local restaurant, was attended by local and national politicians, including Nattawut Saikua, reported Thai PBS World.

“As politicians, we cannot abandon the people. We have to work for them until we can no longer do so.”

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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