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Thaksin Shinawatra’s Strategic Move in Pathum Thani PAO Election: Pheu Thai’s Fight for Political Resurgence

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A covert turf war has erupted in Pathum Thani, as titans of national politics quietly clash, according to insiders. The Provincial Administrative Organisation (PAO) chairman election, happening on June 30, lays bare the dynamics spurred by political alignments among the main coalition and opposition powerhouses.

The Pheu Thai Party, which saw its long-standing reign in Pathum Thani shattered in the previous election by the Move Forward Party (MFP), is fervently electing its PAO chairman. This election is a crucial showcase of Pheu Thai’s resolve to regain its popularity. Eyeing expansion, coalition partner Bhumjaithai Party is vying to bolster its influence beyond its traditional strongholds in the lower Northeast, while MFP may unexpectedly support Bhumjaithai, according to sources.

This high-stakes PAO contest drew significant attention when former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, recently paroled, visited Pathum Thani. He urged the red shirts, Pheu Thai’s core followers, to unify and support the ruling party. His appeal, during an event celebrating a monk ordination of a prominent local political figure’s son, was seen as a clear signal of Pheu Thai’s effort to reclaim its leading position in Thai politics.

Critics argue Thaksin, although not an official Pheu Thai member, increasingly influences the party’s decisions at his own peril. He denies orchestrating the party’s affairs, likely wanting to avoid legal repercussions for non-member involvement in party matters. Pheu Thai desperately needs every ally to regain footing after nearly a decade in the political wilderness post the 2014 coup led by the National Council for Peace and Order.

The looming question is whether Pheu Thai can revive its appeal in time for the next general election, a little over three years away. To reconstruct its red shirt base, the party believes grassroots efforts are essential. Thaksin, seen as the de facto leader, is perceived as the ideal figure to rekindle the red shirts’ loyalty. His campaign trail has stretched from Chiang Mai to Nonthaburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, and now Pathum Thani.

Winning seats in a general election hinges on cultivating connections with constituents, tested in Local Administrative Organisation (LAO) and PAO elections. Aspiring MPs often first achieve prominent LAO positions or leverage influential LAO figures to secure widespread support.

In Pathum Thani, Pheu Thai has courted several influential local political families to challenge their most formidable adversary, Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit Toopkrajang, a former Pathum Thani PAO chairman, in the upcoming PAO poll. Once a loyal Thaksin protégé, Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit had the ex-premier ceremoniously pin his new police rank insignia—a symbol of his high esteem for Thaksin.

However, after Thaksin fled into exile following the 2006 coup, Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit ventured into local Pathum Thani politics, establishing robust ties with Bhumjaithai, eager to expand in the lower Central Plains. Bhumjaithai’s strategy involves securing Pathum Thani and progressing up the Chao Phraya River to win seats in neighboring Ayutthaya, which borders Ang Thong, currently represented in parliament by Paradorn Prissanananthakul of Bhumjaithai.

This growing alliance between Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit and Bhumjaithai disconcerted Thaksin, who endorses Charn Phuangphet as Pheu Thai’s candidate for the June 30 PAO election. Charn relies heavily on red-shirt voters for a winning chance. Yet, recent Nida (National Institute of Development Administration) survey results show an uphill battle: Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit leading with 31%, Charn trailing at 28%, and 17% undecided.

The undecided cohort, likely MFP supporters, face a dilemma: choose between Pheu Thai’s candidate or Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit, who runs under the Khon Rak Pathum (Love Pathum) group. Surprising many, MFP, which routed Pheu Thai in last year’s general election in the province, chose not to field a candidate or endorse another party’s candidate, citing time constraints for candidate selection.

An insider revealed MFP is mired in an internal conflict over candidate choice. Observers speculate if MFP supporters still harbor resentment over Pheu Thai’s perceived betrayal, ditching their alliance to form a government with conservative parties, this could benefit Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit. Bhumjaithai, friendly with him, might gain new ground in Pathum Thani.

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the Senate election law’s legality allows the final Senate contest stage to proceed, but it doesn’t offer the Election Commission (EC) much respite. Sections 36, 40(3), 41(3), and 42(3) of the organic Senate election law were scrutinized following a petition by Senate candidates. Despite the court’s unanimous ruling validating these sections, challenges persist.

Irregularities like bribery for votes and applicants falsifying qualifications plague the election process, raising concerns about the EC’s effectiveness. EC chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong admitted to receiving 80 complaints as of June 16, vowing swift investigations and justice for all candidates. Political analyst Olarn Thinbangtieo criticized the EC’s “endorse first, disqualify later” policy, urging aggrieved candidates to challenge it in the Supreme Court’s Election Division.

Despite these issues, the Senate election race proceeds with 3,000 candidates competing for 200 seats in the final voting round on June 26. Results are expected by July 2. Legal scholar Jade Donavanik noted the court’s ruling supports the Senate election law, but not the EC’s handling of the election, which has been marred by accusations of political and interest group interference.

As Pathum Thani’s PAO election unfolds and the Senate election looms, both contests underscore the turbulent interplay of local and national political forces, revealing the intricate and often contentious pathways to power.


  1. John Smith June 22, 2024

    Thaksin’s involvement in the Pathum Thani election is a clear sign he never really left Thai politics.

    • Lily M June 22, 2024

      Absolutely! His influence is undeniable, and it’s clear he’s the power behind Pheu Thai.

      • PoliticalAnalyst42 June 22, 2024

        But can we really say that’s a bad thing? He’s looking to restore some stability after years of turmoil.

      • John Smith June 22, 2024

        Exactly. Love him or hate him, he gets things done. It’s better than the stagnant leadership we’ve had.

    • Wanchai June 22, 2024

      Thaksin just wants power and he’s using his influence to manipulate politics to his favor. It’s not about stability!

  2. Samantha June 22, 2024

    The fact that MFP isn’t endorsing anyone is so strange. Are they playing some kind of long game?

    • PoliticalJunkie June 22, 2024

      Maybe they’re waiting to see who wins so they can ally themselves strategically afterward.

      • Grower134 June 22, 2024

        Or they’re just divided internally and can’t make a decision. Not everything is a grand strategy.

      • Samantha June 22, 2024

        True, but ignoring a high-profile election like this risks alienating their supporters. It seems risky.

  3. Elena T. June 22, 2024

    The EC’s ‘endorse first, disqualify later’ policy is ridiculous. It’s just asking for corruption.

    • AcademicOne June 22, 2024

      I agree. This policy undermines the entire electoral process and shakes public confidence in fair elections.

    • Larry D June 22, 2024

      Yeah, they should be more thorough from the start. Once someone is elected, it’s much harder to disqualify them.

  4. Kitiya June 22, 2024

    Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit is the real threat to Thaksin’s plans. With strong local support, he’s a formidable candidate.

    • Susan R June 22, 2024

      Kamronwit has the upper hand locally, but Thaksin has national reach. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

    • NaturalLaw25 June 22, 2024

      But local politics is where real power lies. Control local bodies and you control the grassroots.

  5. Joe June 22, 2024

    It seems like Pheu Thai is desperate to win back Pathum Thani. But aligning with Thaksin again? Bold move.

    • Maya June 22, 2024

      Desperate times call for desperate measures. They’ve been out of power for a while now.

    • Ben92 June 22, 2024

      But aligning with Thaksin might backfire, especially given the legal dangers.

    • Joe June 22, 2024

      Exactly. It could either solidify their base or cause more harm. High risk, high reward.

  6. Alex Brown June 22, 2024

    The PAO and Senate elections being so closely connected show how intertwined local and national politics are.

    • Ling J June 22, 2024

      Yeah, it’s a complicated web. What happens locally can have huge national impacts.

  7. Brandon June 22, 2024

    The undecided voters could swing the election. MFP not running might help Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit.

  8. Sophie K June 22, 2024

    Pheu Thai has a long road ahead if they want to regain power nationally. This is only the beginning.

  9. Winston June 22, 2024

    Bhumjaithai’s strategy to expand from the lower Northeast is clever. They could capitalize on this election.

  10. Alice June 22, 2024

    It’s fascinating how political alignments can change quickly. Yesterday’s allies could be tomorrow’s adversaries.

  11. Nina Parker June 22, 2024

    I think Thaksin’s return could unify the red shirts and give Pheu Thai the boost they need in this election.

    • Jay June 22, 2024

      But it’s also risky. If he oversteps, it could lead to legal issues or political backlash.

  12. Tuk June 22, 2024

    There’s too much corruption in the election process. The EC needs to clean house if they want fair results.

  13. Ethan June 22, 2024

    The alliance between Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit and Bhumjaithai is a game changer. It complicates things for Pheu Thai.

  14. Michael June 22, 2024

    I’m curious to see how the MFP supporters will vote. They could swing the election either way.

  15. Chad21 June 22, 2024

    The animosity between Thaksin and Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit will be interesting to watch.

  16. Ravi June 22, 2024

    Legal scholars criticizing the EC show that the election system is deeply flawed. Reforms are long overdue.

    • Emma June 22, 2024

      Totally agree. Without proper reforms, the election results will always be questioned.

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