Thailand: ‘Outsider’ PM talk swirls as 42 new parties register

  • Many groups which have registered as political parties with the Election Commission (EC) on 2 Mar 18 made clear they would not shun the possibility of supporting an “outsider” to become prime minister after the election.
  • A total of 42 groups submitted applications to establish political parties along with their names and logos on the opening day of registrations at the EC. The registration period will run until the end of Mar 18.
  • No one appeared on behalf of street protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban on 2 Mar 18. However, affiliates of his have already announced plans to set up a party supporting Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s bid to return as prime minister.
  • Among the 42 groups which registered, at least three have announced their support for Gen Prayut. They are the Palang Chart Thai, Prachachon Patiroob and New Palang Dhamma parties.
  • Samphan Lertnuwat, who served as a minister during the Chavalit Yongchaiyudh administration in 1997, and 16 former Pheu Thai MPs, registered a new party called the “Citizen Power Party”. Asked whether the party would support Gen Prayut’s return after the election, Mr Samphan said his group had not yet thought about candidates for prime minister, and would not do so until a formal meeting of the party takes place, he said.
  • Asked why his party, of mostly former Pheu Thai members, had not stayed with their old parties, Mr Samphan said they were weary of political conflict, but affirmed the relationship between these former MPs and their old camps is not strained.
  • Members of several would-be parties said they are ready to support those on party lists to become prime minister, but if that is the case, they would also entertain the idea of a capable outsider.
  • These included the group who registered as the Thai Nation Power Party, which some have speculated is a proxy for the military regime.
  • Meanwhile, a group registered as the Pheu Chart Thai Party, led by Amphaphan Thanetdejsunthorn, the common law wife of the late military strongman Gen Sunthorn Kongsompong, who staged a coup that seized power from the Chatichai Choonhaven government in 1991.
  • A pro-Prayut group, led by former senator Paiboon Nititawan, registered as Prachachon Patiroob (Reform People Party. Mr Paiboon has clearly announced that he supports Gen Prayut returning as premier.

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