Thai opposition leader Pita Limjaroenrat set to play major role after voters reject army-backed rule

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Thai opposition leader Pita Limjaroenrat, 42 years old, seems poised to play a significant role in politics following voters rejecting nearly a decade of army-backed rule. With the majority of votes counted from Sunday’s poll, Pita’s radical Move Forward Party led the popular vote, ahead of the more established opposition Pheu Thai party. This is a remarkable achievement for a party whose predecessor was dissolved, and its leader barred from politics reports Channel News Asia.

Pita, known for his striking appearance, has been dynamic on the campaign trail, capitalizing on his youth and energy to appeal to voters seeking change after eight years of the dreary military-backed government. “We will together rewrite Thai political history. Vote Move Forward, Thailand changes,” he announced to enthusiastic supporters at MFP’s last rally in Bangkok.

The election is the first since major youth-led pro-democracy protests erupted across Bangkok in 2020, demanding restrictions on the power and spending of Thailand’s king – breaking a long-standing taboo on questioning the monarchy. MFP is the only party promising to reform the lese majeste laws, referred to as 112 in Thailand, based on their section in the penal code. The vastly controversial and sensitive subject has long been considered untouchable in Thai politics. However, Pita has remained resolute, stating that “no matter what, we will push for royal lese majeste law reform.”

Born in Thailand, Pita was educated in New Zealand and the United States, studying at Harvard on an international scholarship before becoming an entrepreneur. However, after his father passed away when Pita was 25 years old, he returned home to take over the family’s heavily indebted business Agrifood, successfully turning its fortunes around. He later became the executive director of the transport and delivery app Grab Thailand. In 2012, Pita married Thai TV actress Chutima Teepanat, but the relationship ended in 2019. The couple has a seven-year-old daughter who featured prominently in the campaign, with Pita frequently bringing her on stage after speeches to the delight of the crowds.

Despite his success at the polls, there is no clear indication that Pita’s path to becoming prime minister will be smooth. He must now form a coalition strong enough to surpass government-appointed senators who elect Thailand’s PM from among eligible candidates.

AsiaThailand News


Sara is a journalist and content writer who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics. Sara's journey in journalism began as a copywriter, and over time, her portfolio expanded to include articles and features for some of the nation's top lifestyle publications. Outside the office, she enjoys practising yoga and exploring hidden locations in Bangkok.