Thailand’s opposition party presents policy and candidates

PATHUM THANI, Thailand — Thailand’s main opposition party lined up its parliamentary candidates on Friday and laid out its political promises in a well-choreographed show of confidence ahead of the upcoming general election.

Thousands of red-clad supporters cheered and waved banners as 400 Pheu Thai Party candidates marched behind flag-bearers into an indoor university stadium on the outskirts of Bangkok to take their places on stage.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is expected to dissolve parliament by Monday, shortly before the end of his term, which would likely set the vote for early May.

Pheu Thai has close ties to Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister ousted by a military coup in 2006. Thaksin, the telecommunications tycoon who overturned traditional Thai politics with populist politics, is despised by the military and the ruling conservative establishment, whose influence he has influenced. threatened him. He is now living in exile to avoid jail time for what he says are politically motivated charges.

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His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, also served as prime minister from 2011 to 2014, when she was forced out of office due to a controversial legal ruling.

Despite attempts by his opponents to eliminate his family’s influence in Thai politics, Thaksin continues to enjoy significant support, particularly among poorer voters. As a result, many analysts are tipping Pheu Thai to win the most seats of any party and touting its prospects for a landslide victory.

Thaksin’s daughter, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, is expected to be the main candidate for prime minister.

On Friday, he outlined improving working conditions, guaranteeing a higher minimum wage, reducing pollution and turning Thailand into a financial technology hub.

“I hope everyone has won the election in a landslide and will win the hearts of the people in a big way,” he told the assembled candidates to rapturous applause. “Together we will solve the problems that have accumulated over the last eight years, reduce them and make them disappear.”

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Even if Pheu Thai wins the most seats, it does not necessarily secure the prime minister. The top post is chosen by a joint vote of the elected legislators and the appointed 250-member Senate. The Senate is widely expected to vote as a bloc in favor of a conservative candidate and against anyone from the Shinawatra camp.

Prime Minister Prayuth has led the country since taking over in a 2014 military coup that toppled the Pheu Thai government led by Yingluck Shinawatra. Prayuth then went on to serve as prime minister in the 2019 election, which was conducted under laws enacted by the junta to facilitate a return to power.