From Manager, January 3, 2019
Caption: Three parties are fighting hard for their party policy.
Left, holding a sign reading Pheu Chart Party: Choose my party in order to bring Thaksin home.
Center, holding a sign reading Pheu Thai Party: No… my party has a clear policy in bringing Thaksin home.
Right, holding a sign reading Thai Raksa Chart Party: Don’t believe them… only my party… that would bring Thaksin home in style.
[Since the new constitution essentially penalizes large parties in parliament, Thaksin supporters have been strategically divided among a number of smaller parties. This has several other advantages such as mitigating the threat of dissolution that the Pheu Thai faces for allowing itself to be “influenced” by people overseas (in this case Thaksin) and also to create more party list posts to protect Red Shirt leaders who have agitated on Thaksin’s behalf.
Here the cartoonist makes fun of recent statements made by politicians. He contends that these political parties and the elections are only marginally about party policy or democracy and instead are about the perennial quest to return Thaksin to power.
Yongyuth Tiyapairat, one of the founders of the Pheu Chart Party, has been openly sparring with the junta, demanding they negotiate with Thaksin directly and pledging that his party will find a way to bring Thaksin home. This is exactly what previous parties, like the People Power Party and the Pheu Thai, have pledged before elections in the past.
The party that led the last elected government, the Pheu Thai Party, has lost many influential members both to the new pro-Thaksin parties and to pro-military parties which oppose Thaksin’s return.
The de facto leader of the Pheu Thai, popular politician Sudarat Keyuraphan, has attempted to bolster her party in the face of rumors that Thaksin has abandoned it with so many politicians moving to other parties.
Sudarat is consistently one of the most popular politicians in the country, but has faced resistance in her attempts to gain control of the Pheu Thai.
As a non-Thaksin relative with her own political base, she is unlikely to follow Thaksin’s orders from abroad, thereby complicating his efforts to return to politics. She is also hated by the traditional rural political cliques that make up the party. She has her political base around Bangkok, making her far removed from the kingpins and voters in the Northeast that comprise the party base.
Thaksin’s son Panthongtae, once expected to join one of the new pro-Thaksin parties, instead joined the Pheu Thai. This was seen as a way for Thaksin to show he was not abandoning the party.
The Thai Raksa Chart is another new party, this one created as a home for some of the Red Shirt leadership. One benefit of this is to create more party list MPs posts for non-politician Red Shirt leaders.
Most Red Shirts leaders are not actual politicians who have home districts where they are elected. They were recruited in past years to agitate, sometimes violently, in support of Thaksin initiatives. After elections, these individuals received legal protection, as well as political positions, by being appointed party list MPs under the Pheu Thai.
However, the new charter limits the number of party list MPs meaning that Red Shirts leaders have no guaranteed path to be MPs and legal protection within the Pheu Thai. Thus, Thai Raksa Chart can provide MPs posts for important Red Shirts.
It will also likely ease the complaints of more mainstream politicians in the Pheu Thai who felt uneasy about sharing a party with Red Shirts and their sometimes extreme rhetoric.
Officially, the Thai Raksa Chart says it has no connection to the Pheu Thai Party or Thaksin. However, the party’s acronym pronounced phonetically reads “Thaksin Shinawatra.” The party logo, like the logo of all parties Thaksin has controlled, is similar to the Pheu Thai and Thai Rak Thai logos. Thus, the party clearly wants to send the message that it is Thaksin’s party despite what it says publicly.]
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