Vowing to Rewrite Constitution Prior to Thai Elections: Thaksin-Affiliated Party


Thailand is heading towards a general election on May 14th, and amongst the parties contesting the election is Pheu Thai Party, which is linked to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. This party, facing strong competition from the military-backed groups, has promised to rewrite Thailand’s constitution if it comes out victorious in the election. As part of the six point election road map that the party has put forward, Pheu Thai is planning to propose a new constitution and then put it up to a referendum, as well as an anti-coup bill.

Pheu ThaiParty, which is said to have significant support in rural areas of the north and northeast, is also fighting hard to reform the military. One of the key measures in the party’s agenda is abolishing conscription and making military service voluntary in an effort to keep the institution from meddling in politics and hence, thwarting future coups. The party hopes that its agenda of restoring democracy and reforming military will bring about the desired electoral victory.

The 2017 constitution gives a 250-member Senate, populated mostly by establishment allies, the right to vote to pick the prime minister along with the lower house. So, even though Pheu Thai Party is leading in pre-election opinion polls, the results may swing due to the advantages of the military-backed groups.

Finally, Thaksin Shinawatra, the leader of Pheu Thai Party, is a former Prime Minister of Thailand. He held the office from 2001–2006, and was later overthrown in a military coup. Following this, he moved to United Kingdom in 2008, and has since been living there till date. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was Prime Minister of Thailand from 2011-2014 and he was one of the major influences in her premiership.

Thaksin Shinawatra is a controversial figure in Thai politics, being popular with the rural poor but being perceived as corrupt and authoritarian by the urban elite and royalists. His current attempt to influence the political situation in Thailand is seen as a thorn in the side of those who oppose him.