The rising popularity of Pheu Thai party and its strong showing in local elections across the country has raised the eyebrows of those in power to look at ways to possibly derail the planned elections in 2023, academics have come out to warn.
To add fuel to the wild rumors of a possibility of derailing the upcoming polls a high level minister of the incumbent coalition – Digital Economy and Society Ministry Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, came out to say that if people come out to protest on September 30th to seek the removal of the suspended Prime Minister – Prayut Chan-o-cha, then they should be mindful that such actions could possibly lead to no elections at all.
Academics have come out to say that such statements from a senior minister is not to be taken lightly because there are various glitches that could be used as an excuse to postpone the elections.
“If there is an election, Pheu Thai will win and one of the ways to stop that from happening is to stop the election from happening,” said Thanaporn Sriyakul, president of the Political Science Association at Kasetsart Universitym during a televised program.
“They know that if they fight in this battlefield they will lose and they also do not know what is going to happen to them after the battle so what they can do now is to delay the election to buy more time for negotiations,” he said.
Thanaporn, who is also the leader of the Common People Party who has been working closely with Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin, said the current political climate is similar to the period before Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra came into power in 2011.
Yingluck is former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister.
He said it took Yingluck around 40 days to campaign for the election which she won by a landslide and Paetongtarn “Ung Ing” Shinawatra, Yingluck’s niece and Thaksin’s daughter, could be following suit.
Paetongtarn is the current symbolic leader of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, as she’s the head of the ‘Pheu Thai Family’.
Thanaporn pointed out to the latest victory of Seksith Vainiyompong, the party’s candidate for the provincial administrative organisation (PAO) chief in Roi Et, who won a landslide victory on Sunday with Paetongtarn’s help.
He also pointed out to the party’s landslide victory in the PAO race in Kalasin in August as another sign of Pheu Thai’s and Paetongtarn’s momentum.
The party has yet to formerly announced Paetongtarn as one of its candidates for the next general election which is expected for May 2023 but many political scientists believe that it is imminent because she was well-received by the supporters of the party.
“Yingluck’s trend was similar to the current trend for Ung Ing,” he said.
“The feeling today is similar and the trend continuous and these signs are being supported by various polls so I believe that General Prayut [Chan-o-cha] will continue to be in power after September 30, he will have to come back,” he said.
Thanaporn was referring to the Constitutional Court’s decision on Gen. Prayut’s 8-year premiership term limit. The court is set to provide its verdict on September 30.
He was also referring to the latest poll by the National Institute of Development Administration that was released over the weekend.
The survey with a sample size of 2,500 participants showed that 21.6% of them picked Paetongtarn for the premier seat followed by followed by Pita Limjaroenrat of the Move Forward Party at 10.6% but 24.2% of the participants also said that nobody was suitable for the post at the moment.
Thanaporn explained that the only way for the government to stop Pheu Thai’s landslide momentum is to bring back Gen. Prayut which is why he believe the Constitutional Court’s verdict on September 30 will be in favor of the 2014 coup leader.
He also pointed to Digital Economy and Society Ministry Chaiwut’s comments to the press over the weekend that if many people came out to protest against the government on September 30 or afterward, there might be no election.
“I do not believe that Chaiwut was just joking around,” Thanaporn said.
“Chaiwut is well connected with the people in power and this move [of stopping the election] could be one of the moves on their timeline,” he said.
Thanaporn said Acting Prime Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan will not be able to stop Pheu Thai’s landslide because he will willing to make negotiation with the opposition while Gen. Prayut does not usually make any compromises.
He said if Gen. Prayut survives the 8-year term limit verdict, he could push for the derailment of the 2 bills that are related to the organic law of the next general election which are currently being considered by the Constitutional Court.
“If these laws were dropped, the Election Commission will not dare to hold the election and the government could also say that they will not enact any emergency decree that will put them at risk as well,” he said.
Apart from the legal means, Thanaporn also said that if many protesters came out to protest against the government then “the security forces could be mobilized in the name of peace protection” and the election will be delayed.
“No matter which scenario will take place, the result will be the same and that is there will be no election at the moment,” he said.