SATURDAY, March 02, 2024

Party by party guide to Thailand’s general election

Party by party guide to Thailand’s general election

Political parties are busy making big promises to woo voters and win as many seats as possible in the upcoming general election, tentatively scheduled for May 7.

The House of Representatives' four-year term ends on March 23, but Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to dissolve Parliament early. This move will cut the amount of time MP candidates are required to have been members of a political party before the election from 90 days to 30 days – giving them more time to switch parties.

Here are some promises being made by the main political parties:

United Thai Nation

The United Thai Nation (UTN) Party, which Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha joined in January in a bid to be re-elected as PM, has launched a policy package focused on continuity called "Move on existing measures".

Established on March 31, 2021, the new party initially had only two seats in the House of Representatives. However, dozens of MPs from other parties are expected to defect to the party in the coming days, boosting its ambition to win the 25 MP seats it needs to get Prayut into the race for PM.

UTN promises to improve people’s quality of life by increasing the monthly payments for state welfare cardholders and the elderly to 1,000 baht, allow people to receive free medical treatment at any age, build recreation centres and hand tax breaks to businesses that hire people beyond retirement age.

The party has also vowed to continue the shopping and travel subsidy schemes, Khon La Khrueng (Let's Go Halves) and Rao Tiew Duay Kan (We Travel Together).

On agriculture, UTN said it will set up a fund to maintain the price of agricultural products, offer rice farmers a subsidy of 2,000 baht per rai and tackle encroachment on state land by reforming the map.

The party also vows to upgrade infrastructure in Thailand's economic corridors to meet international standards and thereby boost economic potential.

Party by party guide to Thailand’s general election

Palang Pracharath

Palang Pracharath leader and Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan announced in January he was ready to serve as the next PM. His party holds 79 MP seats.

PPRP is pledging to boost entitlements for state welfare cardholders to 700 baht per month and hand land to people below the poverty line.

The party’s key election pledge is to “Turn bribes into taxes" by passing laws that reduce bribery and increase tax revenue simultaneously.

The policy was inspired by February’s two-day Parliament debate in which the opposition accused the government of inaction over corruption related to Chinese triads. It alleged that immigration and other police officers took bribes from Chinese gangsters to allow them to run criminal enterprises in Thailand.

PPRP has also vowed to be the party of reconciliation, building cooperation with all parties to overcome two decades of political conflict and bring peace and stability.


Party by party guide to Thailand’s general election

Democrat Party

PPRP’s coalition partner has unveiled a campaign titled “Creating jobs, generating revenue, developing the country” under the leadership of Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit.

The Democrats currently hold 50 seats in the House but have suffered a string of MP defections to other parties.

The party’s core pledges are to pay a lump sum of 30,000 baht to every farming household, 100,000 baht per year to fishery workers, and free milk for schoolkids. They also promise to set up community banks with 2-million-baht deposits to offer low-interest loans to local entrepreneurs.

Other democrat pledges include waiving online sales tax for community enterprises and shops, and reducing the fee food delivery apps charge restaurants.

The party would also scrap the blanket legalisation of marijuana – a policy championed by its coalition partner Bhumjaithai to woo voters at the 2019 election.

“Sale of marijuana will only be allowed with a doctor’s prescription to protect children and ease worries of parents,” said the party’s assistant secretary-general Chanin Rungsaeng.

Party by party guide to Thailand’s general election

Bhumjaithai Party

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul’s party is promising free radiation therapy for cancer patients and dialysis for people with chronic kidney disease.

Bhumjaithai currently has 63 MP seats.

The party has also promised a three-year suspension of debt repayments and a trade boost for agricultural products.

It plans to ease people’s expenses by giving every household solar panels so their power bills rise no higher than 450 baht per month. It would also make electric motorcycles available to buy for 6,000 baht on monthly instalments of 100 baht.

Party by party guide to Thailand’s general election

Pheu Thai

The core opposition party led by Chonlanon Srikaew has launched its “Think Big, Act Smart for All Thais” campaign for the election. The campaign policies were unveiled on its YouTube channel on February 28.

Pheu Thai still has the highest number of MPs in the House with 117, despite some members resigning to establish the Thai Sang Thai Party led by Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra, ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s youngest daughter and likely to be one of three Pheu Thai PM candidates, is targeting a landslide election win to form a single-party government.

The “Think Big” campaign vows to create 20 million jobs with income of 200,000 baht per year and turn Thailand into a regional transport hub and host of Southeast Asian festivals and events. Pheu Thai also pledges to overhaul the Army to create a professional fighting force, reform the bureaucracy, and more than double farmers’ income by 2027. Measures to prevent future coups are also on the list.

The party promises to upgrade universal healthcare initiated by its predecessor, Thai Rak Thai, so that all Thais can access free treatment using just their national ID card.

It also vows to promote Thailand’s soft power across the world and harness each Thai family to its benefits. Another Pheu Thai priority is digitisation of government services to ensure transparent and efficient delivery to the public, and the drafting of a “people’s charter”.

Party by party guide to Thailand’s general election

Move Forward

The liberal opposition party led by Pita Limjaroenrate has promised to combat social inequality that lies at the heart of Thailand’s problems.

The party currently holds 50 MP seats.

Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit said the party will tackle problems that have emerged over the past three years since his Future Forward Party – Move Forward’s predecessor – was dissolved.

“For instance, most people in Thailand still do not have access to clean water 24/7,” he said. “All Thais, regardless of where they were born, should have equal access to public services like water, hospitals, schools and roads.”

Move Forward will also push to restore full democracy, which Thanathorn said has been undermined by the rich and influential.

“We have never addressed the structural problems that allow just a few people in Thailand to gain the most,” he said.

Party by party guide to Thailand’s general election

Chart Pattana Kla

Chart Pattana Kla promises a “spectrum economy” that stimulates growth and benefits all people’s income. The economic platform is the fruit of the merger of the Chart Pattana and Kla parties, both set up by economic experts. It vows to generate 5 trillion baht in national income yearly, attract more tourists, build motorways across Thailand, hand 50,000-baht payments to the elderly and disabled to renovate their houses, and boost the value of agriculture.

Policies also include restructuring the tax system and energy sector to reduce people’s expenses.

“People earning less than 40,000 baht a month should not be taxed,” party chairman Suwat Liptapanlop said, adding that fuel and electricity should also be made cheaper.

The party has also pledged to invest 1 billion baht per province to promote spiritual tourism.

Party leader Korn Chatikavanij said spiritual destinations are popular among Thai and foreign tourists, with potential to generate up to 5 trillion baht in revenue.

Party by party guide to Thailand’s general election

Thai Sang Thai

The party led by ex-Pheu Thai member Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan has launched policies focusing on tackling household debt woes.

It would set up the "Sang Thai Fund" to offer debt moratoriums for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), startups, community funds and venture capital funds. A separate fund would allow people to take 5,000 to 50,000 baht loans with low interest of no more than 1% per month.

Chart Thai Pattana

Sustainability, social welfare, and a better quality of life for future generations are Chart Thai Pattana’s focus.

Party leader Warawut Silpa-archa has committed to turning Thailand into a carbon credit centre in the Asia-Pacific region.

The country would establish standards for measuring and evaluating carbon emissions, certification of audit results, and development of carbon-credit technology, he said.

It will also forge a market for carbon credits and encourage research and development in the Asean region, with Thailand at the forefront.

Election in numbers

UTN is the only party with candidates in all 77 provinces of the country, according to Election Commission data on February 22. Move Forward has candidates in 76 provinces; the Democrats, Bhumjaithai and Pheu Thai in 75; Thai Sang Thai in 47; PPRP in 44; and Chart Pattana Kla in 32.

Meanwhile, 52,322,824 out of 66,090,475 people across the 400 constituencies nationwide are eligible to vote, as Thai nationals aged 18 or over.

Of the five voter age groups, Generation X (43-58 years old) accounts for 30.87% of voters. Gen Y (27-42) accounts for 28.87% and Baby Boomers (59-77) 22.64%.

Related stories:

Taking a hard look at soft power in Thailand

Move Forward promises ‘changes for the better’, hopes for MPs in all corners of Thailand

Chart Thai Pattana gets eco-friendly, goes for ‘speaking’ posters