(CTN News) – In a recent development, Thailand’s Pheu Thai Party has elected Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the youngest daughter of the country’s former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, as its new leader. This decision underscores the enduring influence of the Shinawatra family in Thai politics, more than two decades after Thaksin entered the political arena.
The election of Paetongtarn Shinawatra took place during a meeting of party executives and members at the Pheu Thai Party’s headquarters in Bangkok. Pheu Thai is known as one of several political parties believed to have the support of Thaksin, and it serves his political interests.
“Paetongtarn Shinawatra Takes the Helm of Pheu Thai Party”
The previous leader of the party, Chonlanan Srikaew, resigned due to breaking a pledge that Pheu Thai would not form a government with military-aligned parties.
Although Pheu Thai finished second in the election held in May, the winning Move Forward Party could not garner enough support from conservative lawmakers to form a government. This created an opportunity for Pheu Thai to take power by aligning with former political adversaries.
Paetongtarn Shinawatra expressed her commitment to the party’s core values, stating, “We will not give up the original DNA of Pheu Thai, which is bringing policies that we promise to the people to reality.
We will make dreams come true. We will make the impossible become possible. We will erase all insults with our irrefutable performance.”
It is worth noting that Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is a member of the Pheu Thai Party and extended his congratulations to Paetongtarn. Before the election, there was speculation that she could be a potential prime minister candidate.
Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecoms billionaire, served as Thailand’s prime minister in 2001 and was reelected in 2005, primarily due to his populist policies that appealed to lower-income voters.
However, he was ousted by a military coup in 2006. In 2011, Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was elected as Thailand’s first female prime minister, but her government was also ousted in a coup in 2014.
The enduring popularity of Thaksin continues to play a significant role in Paetongtarn’s support, particularly among poor and working-class Thais. However, the Pheu Thai Party’s performance in the recent election did not meet its initial expectations.
“Thailand’s Pheu Thai Party’s Leadership Reshuffle”
The party’s decision to forgo an alliance with the Move Forward Party in favor of a coalition that included two military-affiliated parties negatively impacted its standing among many ordinary Thais, according to opinion polls.
Pheu Thai’s leadership expressed the desire for more young people in leadership roles, seemingly to counter the appeal of the Move Forward Party among the younger generation.
Paetongtarn’s election reaffirms the prominent role of the Shinawatra family in the leadership of the Pheu Thai Party. It comes just two months after Thaksin’s return to Thailand following 15 years of exile to avoid a jail sentence.
Thaksin was initially taken into custody upon his return but was quickly transferred to a state hospital, citing health issues such as high blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, and chest tightness.
His eight-year prison sentence was subsequently reduced to one year by Thailand’s king, sparking criticism and calls for transparency regarding his health condition and treatment.