Thailand’s Move Forward Party declared on Friday that it will step aside and allow Pheu Thai to create a government, despite remaining in the eight-party coalition. The alliance unveiled the name of the prime ministerial candidate, largely thought to be Pheu Thai leader Srettha Thavisin, at a press conference following a meeting on Friday afternoon.
Pheu Thai leader Srettha Thavisin said after a meeting of the eight coalition allies at Pheu Thai’s headquarters on Friday that the eight parties agreed to seek support from the Senate and other political parties outside the eight-party bloc in order to secure enough votes to support Pheu Thai’s PM candidate in the joint parliamentary session next Thursday.
Srettha Thavisin, 60, a former CEO of a major real estate conglomerate and member of the Pheu Thai Party, is expected to become Thailand’s next prime minister candidate if Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the Move Forward Party, fails to overcome opposition from senators who emerged from the previous coup during the renomination process on July 19, 2023.
Pita has also been ordered by the Constitutional Court to cease performing MP duties on July 19, 2023, awaiting a decision on whether he is qualified to be an MP due to his ownership of ITV.
Despite the fact that Pita has created a phenomenon known as ‘Pita mania’ and has a new generation of fans known as ‘Domsom’ (Orange fan club) who eagerly welcome him wherever he appears after guiding the party to election success, Srettha is a person who is warmly welcomed by the business world. The Thai stock market index reflects this as well.
Thailand’s market index has risen since Pita’s defeat in the first round of voting on July 13.
Srettha is seen as a liberal political figure who is not very extremist. He has governance expertise, a broad vision, and the ability to connect properly with the public, including the younger generation. He emphasises the need of resolving the issues of economic and social injustice.
Srettha Thavisin was born on February 15, 1963 in Bangkok, Thailand. In the United States, he earned a master’s degree in finance from Claremont Graduate School. He’s been married to Dr. Parkpilai Thavisin, an elderly health care specialist, for almost 34 years. Dr. Parkpilai works at Bumrungrad Hospital’s VitalLife, a vitality and wellness centre. They are the parents of three children.
Srettha started his career as a production assistant at Procter & Gamble Company in 1986, where he stayed for four years. He subsequently went to work for Apichart Chutrakul, his older siblings, and cousins in San Samran. Later, the corporation changed its name to Sansiri. Srettha rose through the ranks to become the company’s CEO (Chief Executive Officer) in the years that followed.
Srettha decided to enter politics in late 2022, when she joined Paetongtarn Shinawatra. On April 4, 2023, he formally resigned from his position as CEO. He began the election campaign with the goal of gaining support through economic policy, which is a key selling point for the Pheu Thai Party.
Lese Majeste Controversy
In the last election, however, he was unable to overcome Pita’s and the Move Forward Party’s popularity. The Pheu Thai Party lost by 10 seats and 4 million votes to the Move Forward Party.
With the elite, major business organisations, and traditional power forces opposing Pita in every way imaginable, Srettha Thavisin’s chances of becoming prime minister from the liberal political spectrum have shifted.
On Tuesday, July 18, Paetongtarn Shinawatra expressed unequivocally her support for Srettha. He is someone who, if possible, can solve difficulties quickly. However, the Pheu Thai Party and the Move Forward Party must still adjust several details in order for Settha to gain the support of a majority of senators.
Srettha stated on Thursday that there must be a “no lese majeste law” issue during the next PM vote on July 27; otherwise, the junta-appointed senators will not back the candidate. “It’s very basic maths,” he explained.
Chaitawat Tulathon, secretary general of the Move Forward Party, stated on Friday that his party will allow the Pheu Thai Party to lead the formation of the new government and will support the Pheu Thai PM candidate on the condition that neither Phalang Pracharath nor the United Thai Nation Party, both of which previously supported Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha, be included in the coalition.
“The important thing today is not whether Pita is Prime Minister, but whether Thailand can return to democracy,” Chaitawat stated.