Thailand Opposition Nominates Thaksin’s Daughter as PM Candidate

Wed Apr 05 2023
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BANGKOK: The main opposition party in Thailand, Pheu Thai, has confirmed that Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the daughter of billionaire ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, will be one of their candidates for prime minister in the upcoming election.

The 36-year-old stands in contrast to her establishment rivals, two former army chiefs with a combined age of 146.

Paetongtarn has been campaigning energetically despite being eight months pregnant and has been nominated alongside businessman Srettha Thavisin and party strategist Chaikasem Nitisiri.

Thailand elections

The parties for the May 14 election fall into two broad camps, those backed by Thailand’s military and royalist establishment and more reformist opposition groups with Pheu Thai at their head.

The current prime minister, Prayut Chan-O-Cha, and ex-general Prawit Wongsuwan of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party are among the military-friendly candidates.

Thaksin, a 73-year-old telecoms tycoon, is amongst the most influential and controversial figures in modern Thai history, still loved by his mainly working-class and rural supporters but loathed by Thailand’s royalist-military elite.

Ousted as the country’s prime minister in a 2006 coup, Thaksin lives in Dubai to avoid corruption allegations he says are politically motivated.

Paetongtarn is new in frontline politics but has energized Thaksin’s base.

A constant presence on the election campaign trail, she has told crowds her pregnancy would not prevent her from rallying supporters to oust Prayut.

However, for many, Paetongtarn does not represent a break with Pheu Thai’s traditional policies even, despite the talk of young versus old.

To avoid a repeat with Paetongtarn, political analysts suggest that the party might use her during the election campaign but ultimately push another less controversial candidate as their key choice for leader – most likely Srettha.

Nonetheless, Paetongtarn’s charisma and astute remarks on the campaign trail have taken many by surprise, who had written her off as little more than a political adornment.

Pheu Thai is riding high in the elections but may yet be blocked from seizing the top job by the kingdom’s constitution, written in 2017 by the then-ruling military junta.

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