Thaksin sets out to reunite political ‘big names and major families

FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2024

The former prime minister is conducting a mission to woo back prominent clans weakened or defeated by the Move Forward party in the last general election

Former PM Thaksin Shinawatra has been actively engaging with big names and major families in Thai politics, despite facing legal charges under Article 112, the lese-majeste law. However, he appears to be playing the long game, positioning his forces within a new political strategy.

Even though the Move Forward Party (MFP) might face dissolution before the 2027 general election, political pundits predict that the popularity of the "Orange Warriors", as MFP is known, will continue to remain strong.

That will make it challenging for Thaksin and his Pheu Thai Party to counter the momentum of the Orange wave.

The former MP is choosing to abandon the 100-party list MP seat strategy and instead focus on the 400 constituency MP seats, which present greater opportunities.

Thaksin’s shortcut strategy of founding the Thai Rak Thai Party is also being revived. This involves rallying the major families from various regions to join forces under the Pheu Thai Party.

Thaksin sets out to reunite political ‘big names and major families

It is evident that in the 2023 election, the major families lost primarily because the current government coalition parties were competing against each other in constituency battles. This allowed the MFP, with its strong momentum, to win in many areas without resorting to traditional political methods. So Thaksin’s steps to gather together the major families are part of an advance strategy to secure their support early on and prevent them from shifting allegiance to the Orange camp.

On May 24, he kicked off his campaign in Nakhon Ratchasima province, which in the 2023 election had 16 MP seats. Pheu Thai secured 12 seats, MFP 3 seats (in the urban areas), and Bhumjaithai Party 1 seat.

The defeat in the urban areas prompted him to negotiate with Suwat Liptapanlop of the Chart Pattana Party to align with him. It remains to be seen whether they will merge with Pheu Thai or adopt a strategy where Pheu

Thai does not contest in Chart Pattana's strongholds. In Nakhon Ratchasima, Thaksin also has ongoing support from the Wangsuppakitkoson and Chantraruangthong families.

Importantly, in the early 2025 Provincial Administrative Organisation (PAO) elections, we might see all factions supporting Yonlada Wangsuppakitkoson for another term as the PAO chief.

On June 7, Thaksin visited Pathum Thani province, aiming to revive support for the red shirts. In the 2023 election, Pathum Thani, which has 7 MP seats, saw MFP winning 6 seats, leaving Pheu Thai with just 1. The major families in Pathum Thani were completely defeated.

Thaksin sets out to reunite political ‘big names and major families

The upcoming PAO election in Pathum Thani is viewed as a rematch for the local major families, with Chan Puangpet running with Pheu Thai's support, competing against Pol. Lt. Gen. Kamronwit Thoopkrachang, whose son is rallying MFP MPs to campaign for him.

The prominent families in Pathum Thani that are aligned with the red camp include the Leenavarat, Phiromprom, Kiatphattanachai, Nopkham, Eungampornwilai and Prasertsuk clans.

On June 12, Thaksin launched a campaign to reignite support in Nonthaburi by attending the birthday celebration of Somnuk Thanadechakul, the mayor of Nonthaburi city. Somnuk nearly joined the Orange camp due to its strong momentum, but Thaksin managed to bring him back to the red camp.

In the 2023 election, Nonthaburi saw MFP winning all 8 seats. In the upcoming PAO election in Nonthaburi, the "Bee Group" (a local coalition) will see Pheu Thai, Bhumjaithai, and  United Thai Nation parties likely field Pol. Col. Thongchai Yenprasert for another term as the PAO chief.

Thaksin’s efforts to rally support in Nonthaburi have garnered the backing of major local figures.

He also plans to tour Nakhon Pathom to negotiate with the Sasomsap family to return to the Pheu Thai fold. 

The Sasomsap family is currently aligned with the Chart Thai Pattana Party, a coalition partner in the government, but future negotiations will determine whether they will remain with a smaller party or rejoin a larger one.

In the 2023 election, Nakhon Pathom had 6 MP seats distributed among Chart Thai Pattana (3), Move Forward (2), and United Thai Nation (1). MFP’s entry into the Sasomsap family’s territory indicates the potential for further gains in the next election. The upcoming PAO election will see Jirawat Sasomsap running as the major family’s candidate. It will be crucial to watch who Move Forward will nominate as their challenger.

Besides rallying the major families for the PAO election to counter the Orange wave, Thaksin is also likely to bring back former allies who have joined other parties, focusing on members from the Palang Pracharath Party, such as Trinuch Thienthong from Sa Kaeo, Warathep Rattanakorn from Kamphaeng Phet, Santi Promphat from Phetchabun, and Capt. Thammanat Prompao from Phayao.

Every step of Thaksin’s movements, as he positions himself as the central figure of political power, must be closely monitored to see which major families and groups he will align with in his strategy to counter the Orange wave and isolate MFP.