Analysis: The last time a coup chief became prime minister after elections

Above: From Bangkok Post, 1991 – Coup leader Suchinda “wais” the skeleton of democracy.

The last time a coup chief became prime minister after elections

Warnings of bloodshed if a coup leader is appointed as prime minister, particularly from Red Shirts, have been going on since it became clear that the present junta intends to remain in control of the government after elections. Even Bloomberg warns of the possibility of “discord” leading to “bloody protests” perhaps without knowing what this all refers to or who they are really speaking for.

The warnings of bloodshed refer back to events in 1992 when a similar circumstance—a junta head managing to become un elected prime minister after elections—plunged the country into turmoil.

The 1991 coup that preceded these events was ultimately an opportunistic attempt by the military to Continue reading

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The Missing Marker & Thai Democracy

The missing marker &
Thai democracy

Do all Thai roads lead to Singapore?

Do all Thai roads
lead to Singapore?

Who will come crawling?

Who will come

Analysis: Thailand’s Half Democracy

Analysis: Thailand’s
half democracy

Thaksin shifts puppets

Thaksin shifts puppets

How many died in the Thai drug purges?

How many died in the Thai drug purges?

Black May 1992

Remembering the Red Shirt protests of 2010

Remembering the Red Shirt protests of 2010

Remembering the checks & balances of the 1997 charter

Remembering the checks & balances of the 1997 charter

During Red Shirt rally, Thaksin kids withdraw 10 billion baht

During Red Shirt rally, Thaksin kids withdraw 10 billion baht

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Cockroach alone

From Manager, March 14, 2019
Cockroach: Dare to die. Dare to fail!!
Caption: Naturally, a cockroach has never been like this before.
Sign on the left: Thaksin
Sign on the right: Tu [nickname of PM Prayuth]

[Refers to the Democrat Party which has recently confirmed again that they would not support PM Prayuth to remain prime minister after elections.
Cartoonists (and critics of the party) portray the Democrats as cockroaches as the party has lasted so long and escaped disbanding unlike other parties–especially those connected to former PM Thaksin.
Some see the Democrats as possible power brokers after elections and the only party that might join with the junta to give them a credible majority in the elected house–especially if parties directed by Thaksin win the most seats.
With their vows to neither join with Thaksin parties nor the junta, it seems they are setting themselves up for isolation.
However, the most likely view is that this position is cynical ploy to take an anti-junta stance before elections and afterwards they will find a way to work with pro-junta parties.
This was already a much-discussed issue all the way back in April 2018: Who will come crawling?]

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Political Songs

From Thairath, March 2, 2019
Left, man: Before coming to Thailand, I was advised to beware of the color of my shirt because it may imply a political stand. [refers to the Red Shirts and the Yellow Shirts supporting and opposing Thaksin respecitively]
Woman: Now, it is not anymore…
Middle, woman: …you have to beware of listening to the music.
Man: Listen the music? Why has that become a problem?
Right: One political group is against the song entitled “Prathet Ku Mee” while another is against the song entitled “Nak Phandin!”

[Recently songs have become related to the political situation.
“Prathet Ku Mee” (“What My Country’s Got”) is anti-junta song.
The anti-communist song “Nak Phandin” (“Burden to the Land”) was recently revived by Army Chief General Apirat in response the the Phua Thai Party’s pledge to cut the military budget.)

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Fah loves Thaksin?

From Manager, March 14, 2019
People: Fah will carry Dad to the parliament.
Thanathorn: I will carry Dad back home.
Caption: Do those “Fah” people know who they are [really] carrying?

[Refers to Future Forward leader Thanathorn and his supporters.
A slogan supporting Thanathorn is “Fah loves Dad.” “Fah loves Dad” is a saying from the popular Thai drama. In it, a girl named “Fah” falls in love with a much older man, but to hide her romantic feelings to others, says “Fah loves Dad” as if the man is her father.
Likewise, Thanathorn’s supporters who idolize him use the phrase to express their admiration for the older and more wealthy man they wish to protect them and act in their best interests in government.
Thanathorn’s political movement has roots in both large families that supported Thaksin as well as in intellectual movements that seemed to underpin Thaksin’s political gambits (like the Nitirat Group).
Thus, critics have pointed out that Thanathorn must surely be acting on Thaksin’s behalf and would support actions to return him to power.
The cartoonist jokes that Thanathorn’s supporters, who refer to themselves as “Fah,” perhaps do not really know that the “Dad” they love and are sending to government is not Thanathorn after all, but Thaksin.]

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Thailand, will you be embarrassment to the world?

From Thairath, February 28, 2019
Title: Will you be embarrassment to the world?
Left: 1 right = 1 vote
Right: 1 right = 250 vote
On ballot papers held by PM Prayuth, left to right: 250 senators vote for PM to remain in power
On ballot papers inside the ballot box: Drive out the dictator
Phi Nooring: The rules are not fair.
Mouse: Takes too much advantage.

[This reminds people how the constitution allows appointed senators to vote on the selection of the PM. This clearly favors the junta and its desire to remain in power and thwart a Thaksin return.]

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More jokes about Yingluck

From Manager, February 26, 2019
Left: Khun Chatchat, you should go debate with them. Let them see how smart we are.
Left caption: This candidate for PM…
Right: Khun Poo, don’t go debating with them… Then they will know we are stupid.
Caption: …with that person

[Refer to Pheu Thai candidates for PM Chatchat Sitiphan (pictured at left) and former party’s leader Yingluck (right).
Chatchat has shown himself to be a very competent speaker and easily displays his personality and knowledge.
Meanwhile, former PM Yingluck, whose nickname is “Poo,” had many speaking gaffes and usually read from papers even when responding to questions. Despite being a popular prime minister, she was not a politician and seemed unused to normal political debate.]

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Thais won’t need to smile anymore

From Thairath, February 22, 2019
Left: You may be a last group of the tourists who will see a welcome…
Middle, Thai man: …with a warm hospitality from Thai people as a host.
Tourist: What happened?
Right: After the election, there is one political party that, if it gets power, will not allow Thai people to smile.

[Refers to Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit who was quoted as saying that Thai people smile because they do not have any views or stands on policies. This quote was criticized as it seems to look down on grassroots voters.
We think the joke is that, if Thanathorn’s party gets into power, he will show he has strong opinions on things and force everyone to have strong opinions as well, thus eliminating the need for Thai people to smile blankly. Or perhaps that a win for Thanathorn and his policies will mean no one will want to smile.]

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Weekly News Magazines: Dissolution fears, March, 2019

From Matichon Weekly, March 8-14, 2019
Main cover reads: Walking through the ‘bombs’

[Refers to Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (pictured). This cover implies that he has to face all disadvantages and traps that the pro-junta groups have laid for him amid intense competition in the coming election.]

Left: Dissolve ‘Thai Raksa Chart’? Unexpected game puts a more difficult ‘task’ for the ‘Pheu’-family parties.

[Refers to the dissolution of Thai Raksa Chart Party over its shock naming of a member of the Royal Family, Princess Ubolratana, as its prime ministerial candidate.
Thai Raksa Chart is one of the parties controlled by Thaksin and is a sister party to Thaksin’s Pheu Thai and Pheu Chart parties. The three parties were created from one original party to try to get around the new constitution that penalizes large parties. After the dissolution, the plan to win the election has become more difficult for this political grouping.]

From Manager Weekly, March 9-15, 2019
Main cover reads: Who will be next?

[Refers to the recent dissolution of Thai Raksa Chart Party for violating the constitution as it named a member of the Royal Family, Princess Ubolratana, as its prime ministerial candidate.
ON the cov ers, parties are represented by their logos: pro-junta Palang Pracharat party (right), anti-junta Phua Chart (left), Pheu Thai (second from the left), Future Forward (third from the left). Each face dissolution over various real or invented infractions.]

Top: “Seripisut” opens the fight with “Big Dang” to speed up collecting support to win votes for “anti-military groups” [Refers to former high-profile policeman turned politician Seripisut Temiyavet who is publicly feuding with army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong.
The army chief filed a criminal complaint against Seripisut for showing disrespect and insulting the military as well as has decorations handed down by the King.
These tussles have become somewhat embarrassing to the junta as it shows a prickly military uncomfortable with typical political jousting.]

Bottom left: New model BNK48 [blue] expands the Ota-market from Isan Thaiban to AEC.

[Refers the new business model of famous girl group BNK48 which is now working with the famous movie series “Thai Bann the Series.” The movie is about the story of the northeastern people known in Isan. This project is believed to help BNK48 to expand their fans to other markets including the nearby AEC countries. “Ota” refers to the Japanese word “Otaku,” a person who is really addicted to something.]

Right: Thai wisdom on marijuana received from the King Rama III

[Refers to a wisdom on using marijuana for drug recipes collected during the King Rama III era. Marijuana has been used as a traditional herb for centuries in Thailand and recently the parliament agreed to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.]

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Election posters: Choose a professional executive

Above: Quickly create opportunities. Quickly create income. Choose a professional executive; PT; Pheu Thai Party

[This was a little battle that went on over a series of posts. Some Pheu Thai posters were put over some advertisements for a condo. Then the condo signs were moved in front of the election posters and this went back and forth several times.]

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Why do Thai people always smile?

From Manager, February 18, 2019
In black box: “Siam smile” “Why do Thai people always smile? Because Thai people don’t have a stand on everything. When they are asked about anything they can’t answer so what they can only do is smile… without any stand.” Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit

[Refers to a quote from Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn when describing Thai people’s political viewpoints.
In the quote, “don’t have a stand on everything” means people do not know what to say and do not have stands on issues. The implication being that people were perhaps not doing their duty as citizens for not having strong viewpoints like Thanathorn did.
This quote was criticized for reflecting a condescending viewpoint towards grassroots voters as it is well-known that Thais smile when trying to maintain the middle ground in a situation or when trying not to offend.
The joke here is that Thanathorn has a big grin on his face indicating he has no political stand and his own mind is empty. However, the allusion might also be that he is faking his empty-headedness just like the grassroots voters he spoke about since Thanathorn once had controversial political viewpoints that he disavowed once he founded his own political party.]

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Two Views

From Newna, February 20, 2019
On sign on wall: Military area. Can’t enter.
Pheu Thai’s Sudarat throws a mortar over the wall. Above the mortar: Cut the military’s budget
At right above the pestle: Burden of the Land
Caption: Equal
[The Pheu Thai Party (among other parties) has called for the cutting of the military’s budget.
Army chief Apirat attacked those groups by playing the song “Burden of the Land.” This song was used to attack left-wing and communist supporters starting in the 1970s. As the military has used such songs to dehumanize and thus set up its foes for liquidation in the past, the revival of the song highlighted that such thinking is still very much present in the present-day military. We are not sure of the symbolism of the mortal and pestle–we think it is used to mean intense fighting between two parties.]

From Thairath, February 21, 2019
On the flag held by Sudarat: Building the future for the new generation
On the signs from top to bottom: School, Hospital, The country is moving forward, Good health, People have lands for living, Have a future, Develop the country, Quality of life, Opportunity for education, Opportunity for creating jobs and incomes
Phi Nooring: How’s it a “Burden of the Land?”
Mouse: Reduce some parts a little bit
Caption: Ask for sharing half of the tank, then we will have more

[Refers to a call from anti-junta parties, including the Pheu Thai Party (represented here by Sudarat holding a flag), to reduce the military’s budget. This cartoon is sarcastic to the reaction of the military which responded by playing an old propaganda song, “Burden of the Land,” used to denigrate left-wing sympathizers in the past.]

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Election posters: Thailand needs a new generation

Above: We are ready. It is time for a new generation to change the country

Under the signature: Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit; Head of the Future Forward Party

Under the logo: Future Forward Party

Also see: Election posters: Looking at you

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Weekly News Magazines: Getting ready for elections, February, 2019

From Lokwannee, February 15-22, 2019

Main cover reads: Look at the hand… all enlightened people lied news or rumor?

[Refers to the Buddhist teaching calling people to have consciousness about whatever they are doing. This cover sarcastically warns “enlightened people” to be conscious about what news they receive amid the intense competition for the coming election. This pro-Thaksin magazine would particularly be referring to pro-junta voters whoa re derided as people who think they know everything. There is no verb in the headline, but we think it is a warning or admonishment to the pro-junta voters who might easily believe lies and rumors that benefit the junta. Many groups are trying to spread false news to discredit or disadvantage others.]

From Matichon Weekly, February 15-22, 2019

Main cover reads: Clear path?

[Refers to the political future of PM Prayuth who is expected to remain PM again after the election. After the surprise nomination of a royal for its PM candidate, it is expected that the pro-Thaksin party Thai Raksa Chart will be disbanded and some are afraid that the Pheu Thai, also controlled by Thaksin, may be dissolved as well. This cover is asking that, even if those parties are dissolved, can PM Prayuth be certain he can remain PM? Prayuth is making the old-fashioned gesture of one posing for a photograph.]

Top: From #Chatchat #nationalmother-in-law to #Falovesdad; Hashtag can change political power?

[Refers to the popular hashtags on social media. “Fa loves Dad” (#Falovesdad) refers to the leader of Future Forward party Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.
This hashtag comes from the famous saying in Thai drama Doksom Seethong when the word “dad” is a secret word refer to a man who a lady named Fa is having an affair with. To avoid people knowing this, she called her lover “dad.” So the hashtag means people are in love with Thanathorn.
#nationalmother-in-law refers to the Pheu Thai’s Sudarat becoming prime minister. During the campaign season Sudarat was seen campaigning with her daughter. Her daughter quickly became the talk of the town for her beauty and loveliness. Thus #nationalmother-in-law, jokingly means people want to marry Sudarat’s daughter and have Sudarat as PM.]

From Manager Weekly, February 16-22, 2019

Main cover reads: Same parties = Same guilt

Logos from left to right: PT; Pheu Thai Party; TRC; Thai Raksa Chart; Pheu Chat party

[Refers to pro-Thaksin parties consisting the Pheu Thai party led by Sudarat and Chatchat (left), Thai Raksa Chart party led by Preechaphol Pongpanit (middle behind Thaksin), Pheu Chart party led by Songram Kitlertphairoj (right) and supported by Jatuporn.
This headline seeks to connect these parties–which were split out from the Pheu Thai for a number of reasons–and have them all share blame for the shock nomination of Princess Ubolratana, HM the King’s eldest sister, by the Thai Raksa Chart Party.]

Top: Passing through all criticism “Thailand’s most black Pretty” Very proud to have “face-skin” only–one person like this in the world

[Refers to Malai Bumroongsri who has become a well-known pretty (or spokesperson-model) at several Thai and international events. Normally, “pretties” have very fair or white skin. However, dark-skinned Malai has become a top pretty in Thailand.]

Bottom left: Learning a lesson of “jail” from the leaders of PAD; Ways of the “warrior” are not the fortune of losers.

[Refers to six former leaders of the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) which recently were sentenced by the Supreme Court to eight months in jail for seizing Government House in 2008. Those include (left to right) Sondhi Limthongkul, Chamlong Srimuang, Pipob Thongchai, Suriyasai Katasilam, Somkiat Pongpaibul, and Somsak Kosaisuk. The headline means that the jailed PAD leaders should be respected since they were fighting against Thaksin’s authoritarianism and submitted to the legal system for their actions–something that Thaksin would never do.]

Middle: Forgotten member?? Piam BNK48? 2-month suspend from work. Ota doesn’t Ok.

[Refers to a member of famous girl group BNK 48, Rinrada ‘Piam’ Inthaisong. Recently, Piam was suspended from work for two months due to depression.]

Right: Disclose an eating secret with a formula 2:1:1 reduce a belly without diet.

[Refers to a new diet.]

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Election posters: Take action, be clear


Former MP Atavit Suwannapakdee

Phyathai District, Ratchathewi District, Chatuchak District.

White at the bottom: Take action; Be clear

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Election posters: Stopping, Cleansing, Destroying

Stopping monopoly; Cleansing the patronage system; Destroying corruption

Under logo: Future Forward Party

On man’s shirt: Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit

Also see: Election posters: Looking at you

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Election posters: Failure… Deteriorate… Hopeless…

Above: We will not allow Thailand to fall behind… Failure… Deteriorate… Hopeless…; PT; Pheu Thai Party

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Several parties, same owner

From Manager, February 19, 2019
Sudarat and Jatuporn: You can move to our shop… Same product, same owner… only different branches.
Sign on the shops from left to right: Pheu Thai, Thai Raksa Chart, Pheu Chart Caption: Just like 7-11

[Refers to the political parties Pheu Thai, Thai Raksa Chart and Pheu Chart. Thai Raksa Chart and Pheu Chart were split off from the Pheu Thai to take advantage of the new constitution that penalizes larger political parties.
Recently, the Thai Raksa Chart has faced legal jeopardy for inviting King Rama X’s elder sister Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya to be its PM candidate.
The cartoonist jokes that the members of that party should just go back to one of the other two parties known to be controlled by Thaksin.]

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Election posters: Pheu Thai’s heart is people

Top: PT; Pheu Thai Party
Pheu Thai’s heart is people; Prademchai Boonchuayleua
Below the white box: Din Dang-Huai Khwang District

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Election poster pollution

From Manager, February 5, 2019

Title: Today wearing only one mask may not be enough

Left: Cover nose and mouth to protect oneself from pollution from breathing small dust.

Right: Close eyes to protect from pollution from seeing the politicians’ posters for the election

On left poster: We will not allow Thailand to Fall behind… Failure… Deteriorate… Hopeless; PT; Pheu Thai Party

On right poster: PT; Pheu Thai Party; Dr. Leelawadee Watcharobol

[This mocks the claims and slogans made on Pheu Thai Party posters, comparing them to the air pollution that has plagued Bangkok for many weeks.]

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Election posters: Solve the people’s troubles

Following the teachings of Buddha

Middle: Bring action to solve the problem of ‘trouble’ for the people… it is the job of the “People’s Reform Party”; PRP; People’s Reform Party

Bottom: Paiboon Nititawan Head of People’s Reform Party

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Struck by the skies

From Matichon, February 19, 2019

[This shows former PM Thaksin, the “owner” of at least three political parties vying in the upcoming elections. One of the parties, Thai Raksa Chart, proposed the King’s elder sister Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya to be its PM candidate. This was a bold and provocative move, typical of the Thaksin-dominated era of politics, to challenge the supposedly non-political parts of the Thai system and give the impression that all parts of the Thai traditional “establishment,” from the military to the monarchy, are divided and actually want Thaksin to return to power.
This cartoon illustrates the idiom “pulling the sky down” meaning to try to involve the royal institution into ordinary people’s activities.
The gambit to propose the princess as PM quickly fell apart and the Thai Raksa Chart party is now facing legal cases that could lead to its disbanding.]

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We really care about Thaksin

From Manager, February 4, 2019

On the poster: We will not allow Thaksin Shinawatra to Fall behind… Failure… Deteriorate… Hopeless; PT, Pheu Thai Party, Pheu Thai’s heart is people.

[This mocks slogans on Pheu Thai election posters. On the actual poster the saying is “We will not allow Thailand to…” The cartoonist changes it to “We will not allow Thaksin Shinawatra to…” It implies that the goals of the party led by Sudarat (left) and Chatchat (right) are not for the country, but instead for Thaksin to return to politics.]

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Election posters: End the economic crisis

Above: Together help end the economic crisis. End the creating of debts; PT; Pheu Thai Party

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It is obvious

From Manager, February 3, 2019

On sign: Pollution Control Department

Saying: We must send an sample of PM 2.5 dust for research to find out where it came from.

[Refers to the serious smog problem in Thailand. This cartoon is points out that it should be obvious what is causing Thailand’s pollution problem.]

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Election posters: Looking at you

Above: Isn’t it enough? 5 years: fails to end the corruption [meaning that the military said they would end corruption during their time in power, yet in many cases seemed not to have the will to actually do it]

Above the signature: It is time for a new generation to change the country.

Under the signature: Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit Head of the Future Forward Party

Under the logo: Future Forward Party

[Anyone with a memory long enough will recall that just a few decades ago the only photos of candidates used on posters were formal and respectful graduation photos of the candidates, showing them as alumni of Chula or Thammasat or whatever.
Eventually Thaksin himself led a more modern representation, using a current photo of himself smiling and wearing a blue suit to symbolize the “CEO Prime Minister” that he purported himself to be.
This election poster of Thanathorn showing him in a black t-shirt and glaring, almost arrogantly, at the viewer is a far cry from the humble, “I-will-be-a-good-bureaucrat” posters of earlier days. It embodies the party’s “Stopping-Cleansing-Destroying” slogan as it directly challenges status of the old Thai establishment.]

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Time to choose

From Thairath, February 2, 2019

Title: Choose whoever you like.

Left, sign by boot: Support power succession. [meaning to support the military to remain in power]; Cheer the coup [support the coup]

Right: Anti-power succession [meaning to oppose the military in their attempt to remain in power]

On the ballot box: Election 24 Mar 62 [2019]

Phi Nooring: Don’t cheat on the election.

Mouse: Transparency justice

[Refers to the coming election on March 24, 2019. The cartoonist contends that the election is a choice between the pro-junta groups and anti-junta groups.]

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Election posters: Transparent democracy

Top: Democrat; People are the highest [priority]; Transparent democracy

Din Dang District, Huai Khwang District

In quotes: “Alleviate poverty, build human resources, build the country” Thana Chiravinij

District 5 Bangkok

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Dictatorship or Democracy

From Thairath, Janaury 30, 2019
Title: 1 ballot paper with 2 choices
On the ballot paper: Election 24 Mar 62; Dictatorship; Democracy
Phi Nooring: Elect for the country’s future
Mouse: Stop destroying the country

[Refers to the coming election on March 25, 2019. The cartoon encourages people to understand that they are voting for one of two things–continued military rule or democracy–as the election is coming down to a competition between pro-junta and anti-junta groups.]
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Election posters: Help end inequality

Top left: Phalang Pracharat Party

Pada Vorakanon

Bangkok District 6 Phayathai, Ratchathewi, Chatuchak

State’s welfare helps end inequality.

Right middle: Number [this leaves a space for the candidate’s number once it is assigned]

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Party of harmony

From Manager, January 29, 2019
Sudarat: Our party will build peace for the country’s future.
In the background left to right, red shirts: Be burned! [the word mimics the sound of a Thai word to create another slang meaning; it contrasts สุก (cooked or be burned) and สุข (happiness)]
Thaksin: As long as I am not happy, you won’t be happy.
Chalerm: Once I have a power, I will revenge you all.
On Wattana’s white T-shirt: Reject the constitution

[Refers to Pheu Thai party’s strategy head Sudarat Keyuraphan. Sudarat is the most well-known and popular PM candidate along with current PM Prayuth.
She projects a moderate and professional air as she has apparently tried to steer the party from its more radical leanings and Thaksin control.
However, the cartoonist reminds the reader that Sudarat’s moderate pronouncements contrast with the Red Shirts (who threatened to burn the nation in 2009 and 2010 and predict bloodshed if Prayuth is appointed PM), Thaksin (who still is deeply involved in the country’s politics) and other party mainstays like Chalerm (known for his aggressiveness and political vendettas).]
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