Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat with supporters in Bangkok on July 9: The party and the new Thailand it stands for are seen as the greatest threats to the establishment. © Reuters

Thaksin no longer scares Thailand’s establishment

Ex-prime minister’s return and pardon accepted as price of keeping reform at bay

Supports the right of the Opposition to exercise formal political power when supported by a majority electoral mandate as opposed to the “artificial” powers of the executive-appointed

Thitinan Pongsudhirak

September 6, 2023 05:00 JST

Thitinan Pongsudhirak is a professor in the political science faculty of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and a senior fellow at its Institute of Security and International Studies.

Thailand’s new government, led by the Pheu Thai Party’s Srettha Thavisin as prime minister, has finally taken office more than three months after the country’s historic election.

The delay in the formation of the government can be attributed to behind-the-scenes maneuvers that have resulted in a grand realignment of the nation’s royalist-conservative establishment and the systematic isolation of the Move Forward Party, the top performer in the May 14 polls.

Still at stake is Move Forward’s agenda of reform and modernization to corral military, monarchical, judicial and bureaucratic elites within a new constitutional order in line with popular demand and expectations.

For interested observers, the way to understand Thai politics is to look beyond the facts of the timing of an election, vote counts and party platforms to focus on the outlook and preferences of the military, monarchy and judiciary. In other words, the powers-that-be will ultimately have the final say, whether through judicial intervention or military takeover, to determine the outcomes that truly matter in Thailand…..

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