Tectonic Shift: Thailand Election 2023
Updated: May 29
On Monday, the Thai royal gazette announced the dissolution of parliament. Additionally, the Election Committee of Thailand (ECT) announced that the election will take place on May 14, 2023. The application date for constituency MP candidates is from April 3–7, 2023, while the application period for party list MP candidates is from April 4–7, 2023.
On March 19, 2023, the NIDA Poll announced the results of its survey on the popularity of both the Prime Ministerial candidate and political parties. It should be noted that this is a panel poll that has been conducted since March 2021. The results are as follows:
Based on the NIDA Poll and the election records from 2019, we have made a moderate assessment of the election results. It should be noted that some scholar predicted that the leading party, the Phue Thai, would win around 174+/- seats, while Phue Thai's own assessment predicted around 250+/- seats and as maximum at 310 seats. Our assessment falls in the middle at 207+/-. Regarding the NIDA Poll, while their countrywide forecasting, implying party list, has a high degree of precision, their constituency prediction varies and depends on several factors, particularly the "ground war" (election canvassers and volunteers in the constituency) and the "air war" (mainstream media and social media campaign). It should be noted that the small number of undecided voters in this election suggests that there will be minimal changes in the election results on the expected date of May 14, 2023.
If the election results happen according to our prediction, there will be a high chance that the new government led by Phue Thai will be likely. However, the new Prime Minister might not be a candidate from Phue Thai, as it requires 375 votes to pass the threshold, in which both Senates and MPs will jointly vote for the PM from the candidates proposed by any party that can make their MPs at 25 seats or more. We expect that General Prawit Wongsuwan is likely to be supported for the new PM in this scenario.
However, the recent government led by Ruam Thai Srang Chart is likely to make PM Prayuth Chan-o-Cha the competing candidate for PM. In this scenario, Phue Thai will likely secure the House Speaker position first to capture the upper hand and negotiate with General Prawit to gather around 406 votes to secure the premiership. Phue Thai will likely secure major cabinet portfolios, particularly economic ministers such as the Finance Minister, Commerce Minister, Agricultural Minister, and Tourism Minister. The government's economic policy will come from Phue Thai.
As of the current date, apart from Paetongtarn Shinawatra and Srettha Thavisin, there is no official announcement for the third candidate from Phue Thai. However, we predict that it will be Doctor Prommin Lertsuridej. Doctor Prommin was a former student leader, former Secretary General to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, former Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic affairs, and former Minister of Energy in the Thaksin government. He represents the group called the "Octobrists," or the former leftist student activists who have remained a significant force over the past three decades despite the collapse of left-wing politics in Thailand at both the national and international levels.
However, if Phue Thai supports General Prawit Wongsuwant as the PM candidate, we expect that the Kao Klai party will not join the government. All party components in the recent government coalition, such as Bhumijai Thai, Chart Thai, and Chart Pattana, will join the government, giving it 349 votes. If the election results happen according to our prediction, Jurin Laksanawisit of the Democrat party will have to resign from the party chief due to poor performance. It is unlikely that the Democrat party will join the new government if Abhisit Vejjajiva, the former party chief, makes a comeback. Therefore, we will have a strange combination of oppositions consisting of Ruam Thai Srang Chart led by the recent PM, Prayuth Chan-o-Cha, the Kao Klai party, and the Democrat party.
However, since Abhisit has made it clear that he won't be in the party list, he won't be an MP in the next election.
General Prawit may have the choice to support General Prayuth to secure the next PM position, but we think this is unlikely in our scenario. A minority government can easily be defeated in the no-confidence vote or in the Annual Appropriations Bill. Additionally, General Prayuth's premiership term will be limited to two years only, according to the verdict from the Constitution Court. In this option, General Prawit may secure the position of Interior Minister, but he may aim high for the premiership, in which case joining with Phue Thai would be a better option.
It should be emphasized that this is our assessment only, and the likely outcome may differ from our prediction. Phue Thai is facing significant criticism and is advocating for a 310 seats campaign to avoid answering questions when the real results are produced, similar to our scenario in which they realistically need the Palang Pracharat party to break through the threshold. The Kao Klai party has clearly stated that they won't join with either Ruam Thai Srang Chart or Palang Pracharat.
Join our discussion online at Asia Society Switzerland in the final episode of this season of "A Closer Look" with our two speakers, Kan Yuenyong and Punchada Sirivunnabood, to find out. The online conversation will take place this Thursday at 12:00 CET and will be moderated by Noel Clehane. Please register at https://asiasociety.org/switzerland/events/closer-look-thailand.
Geopolitics.Asia will provide serious policy analysis on Mondays, trend monitoring on weekdays, and cultural and lifestyle issues on weekends. Please note that our weekday situation monitoring will not include a trend radar or scenario analysis for the time being, as we work to fully automate these processes with AI. You can, however, access to our previous experiments on trend radar and scenario planning generated by the AI, 1) Simple scenario planning at Jan 26, 2023, 2) Double iteration scenario planning technique at February 2, 2023, 3) Triple iteration scenario planning technique at February 9, 2023, and 4) Hyperdimensional scenario planning technique at February 17, 2023.
Stay tuned for updates on this exciting development!