Pheu Thai faces tough battle ahead amid political, economic turmoil


“Big Boss” Thaksin takes the challenges of navigating politics, reviving the economy and shaping Pheu Thais’ future head-on, but will he succeed?

Pheu Thai Party’s time in power is proving to be far more challenging this time than previously, as it is being buffeted by challenges in both political and economic spheres.

As a coalition leader, it is doing its best to implement policies that could offer a turning point to the country and restore public faith. It needs to win back its supporters after many were upset by the party’s strategic shift to form a government with the powerful “3Ps” – General Prayut Chan-o-cha, General Prawit Wongsuwon and General Anupong “Pok” Paochinda.

Yet, despite its alliance with the former coup makers, many of its government’s projects are experiencing halts and adjustments.

In Parliament, meanwhile, the ruling party is being hit hard by the opposition, which is questioning the skyrocketing prices of consumer goods and a significant drop in income opportunities.

Economic growth, on the other hand, is stagnating and the Thai stock market has been plummeting with no clear signs of victory.

This downward trend has been blamed on political uncertainty.

With so many negative factors at play, it is crucial at this time for the coalition government, especially Pheu Thai and PM Srettha Thavisin, to maintain their popularity – especially if they hope to see significant changes.

Previously, the Pheu Thai brand was synonymous with confidence and economic buoyancy, but now it faces unexpected challenges due to several factors.

Though many people are blaming the current challenges on former PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s presence, he has not actually proved to be a hindrance to rallying major political factions.

The Srettha government is still facing challenges despite applying the winning economic formula of Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai government (2001-2006).

Thaksin, who is seen as Pheu Thai’s patriarch, is currently entangled in a lese majeste case related to comments he made to South Korean media in 2015.

Srettha is also using the successful marketing tactics employed during Thaksin’s era, by connecting with the public via social media, frequent visits to different regions and issuing numerous populist directives.

Now, however, the outcomes of these strategies may differ.

In today’s political context, working with a coalition government means that actions are less absolute and decisive than during Thaksin’s tenure. Plus, aligning all political factions is not as straightforward as before, because groups that once allied with Thaksin are well aware of his management style. Now they are carefully considering the alliance and even holding back to boost their bargaining power.

Moreover, some coalition parties are Pheu Thai’s competitors, especially in the Central and Northeast regions.

Meanwhile, the strategy of removing the once-powerful Palang Pracharath Party from the coalition, at a time when 40 of its MPs remain in the government, may be a very bold move. This action would certainly provoke the all-powerful party leader General Prawit, whose star seems to be waning but remains formidable.

Factions within Palang Pracharath that have aligned with Prawit but are being lured by a certain influential figure are in a dilemma. They are cautious about making any moves or appearing ready to shift allegiance, as a misstep could lead to making them significantly vulnerable. The only person bold enough seems to be the one accusing him of being at the root of Thailand’s political turmoil.

Srettha and Thaksin, meanwhile, are paving the way for Pheu Thai to make a comeback in the next election. However, whether this collaboration will be successful or not is not immediately clear as it was when Thaksin rode to the top alone.