Abhisit says no to Democrat election offer over fear of splitting party


Ex-Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he turned down an invitation to run as a party candidate in the May 14 general election so as not to disrupt party unity.

Speaking on Nation TV’s "Komchadluek" news show on Tuesday, Abhisit confirmed he would campaign for the Democrats but not run as a party-list MP candidate.

Abhisit pointed to his resignation as Democrat leader following the 2019 election, when he stepped down in protest at the party joining the Prayut Chan-o-cha-led coalition.

The Democrats suffered humiliation at the last election, winning just 53 MP seats and coming fourth behind Pheu Thai (136), Palang Pracharath (116) and Future Forward (81).

Abhisit said he had met with incumbent Democrat leader Jurin Laksanawisit and ex-leaders Chuan Leekpai and Banyat Bantadtan for talks in the run-up to the election.

"My ideas do not match those of the party’s," he said. "If I run for a seat, it could trigger confusion and affect party unity."

Abhisit said Democrat MP candidates could decide whether they needed his assistance, adding that party executives must be responsible for its direction.

He vowed to do his best in supporting the party’s election campaign.

"The Democrats will face questions if I join the election, which is not good for the party," he said.

The number of seats won by the party would decide whether it joins the government coalition or opposition, he added.

Abhisit says no to Democrat election offer over fear of splitting party

Asked about the political polarisation that has pitted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha against fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, Abhisit said there was no change in the situation.

However, the opposition has gained popularity among the people, who have become disillusioned with Prayut’s government, he said, citing opinion surveys.

"The difference between the general election in 2019 and 2023 is that this time the opposition is more popular than the government," he said.

The opposition is led by the Shinawatra-influenced Pheu Thai Party.

Pheu Thai's Paetongtarn Shinawatra remains voters’ top choice for next prime minister, according to a Nida opinion poll published on Sunday.

The youngest daughter of former PM Thaksin led the poll with 38.2% followed by Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat with 15.75% and Prayut with 15.65%.