I’ve been writing notes on this for weeks and with the constant changes..its been amusing. And so before anything else changes here are my random thoughts for Thai politics.
And so Thailand has elections, joy to the world!
When? 17th March 2019 (early voting for non residents in provinces) and 24th March 2019
Which fortune teller decided upon the date?
When one looks at the facts which are, under the 2017 constitution, elections must be held within 150 days after the relevant electoral laws came into effect on 10 December 2018, so it effectively suggested that elections must be held between 24 Feb and 9 May 2019. Plus #10 decided for his coronation date to be held 4-6 May 2019. So the Election Commission and the Government had to get its act together. Thus when looking at the dates available, the 24th March made logical sense. But ok maybe it was a fortune teller at the end of the day.
Ok fine, which political parties are running?
The only ones that matter are
|Phalang Pracharat Party (PPP)||This is the military party. It is interesting that Dr. Uttama who famously always stayed in the shadows has his face in the front this time. And no surprise that the current PM has been invited to lead to the party.|
|Democrats||Abhisit is the leader, and they are effectively useless. Apparently facing a pressure in the South, their former stronghold, from ACT.|
|Pheu Thai (PT)||Thaksin’s former stronghold, Chadchart looks like a credible fellow. Clever, well-educated, well-spoken, understands economics, management, policies.|
|Future Forward Party (FFP)||New upstart, a shining white knight perhaps? Well spoken, appears genuine.|
|Bhumjathai (BJT)||Old school Eastern Thailand overlords, newin chidchob, they stand for nothing, no real policies but are a swing party|
|Chart Pattana Party||Pheu Thai buddies|
|Chartthaipattana Party||Banharn was the founder, they’ll swing whichever way the THB is|
|Phalang Chon Party||Another ex-Pheu Thai Buddy|
|Action Coalition for Thailand Party||Suthep helped to start this. Perhaps he’s still smarting from the fact that he lead the fight against Thaksin and friends and then was kicked to the sidewalk by those he thought were his friends. And they are taking some seats away from the Democrats down South.|
|Thai Raksa Chart||Ex Pheu Thai – set up in case PT were disbanded. Made a stupid move “perhaps” due to Mr. T.|
So wait explain to me how this election works.
Yes that’s correct, Thai’s can only vote for 500/750 members. And in reality there are only 350 seats that are being decided upon, the remaining 150 seats are party seats.
So 250 seats are just given to people?! Wait how is this possible? This isn’t democratic!
Oh you silly cow, this system was approved by the Thai citizens in a democratic vote years ago when the military first took over.
Fine, so who are these people that can be selected?
For the 194 shortlisted by the NCPO – who knows.
For the 200 elected amongst professional groups, well they should come from these industries/groups
THE 10 ‘PROFESSIONAL AND SOCIAL GROUPS’
1. Public administration and security: former public servants, officials and others
2. Law and justice: former judges, public attorneys and other legal professionals
3. Education and public health: former teachers, lecturers, researchers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others
4. Agriculture: farmers, stock raisers, fishermen and others
5. Non-government employees: blue- and white-collar workers, freelancers and others
6. Environment, real estate, public utility, science, media, energy and others
7. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
8. Women, the elderly, people with special needs, ethnic groups
9. Arts and culture
In theory this could be a council of elders which isn’t the worst idea, I doubt many people would be against a genuine group of individuals that represent the sciences, business and arts, however, I suspect it will just be cabal of friends aiming to consolidate power.
Ok this sounds depressing, anything positive?
Well I consider two individuals to be White Knights of sorts. I like the fact that the Future Forward Party is brand new to the game and I like their most of the policies. So I have some hope for Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and his merry band of supporters. Then again his uncle Suriya Jungrunreangkit was Deputy PM, Minister of Industry and Ministry of Transport during Thaksin’s time. And apparently heavily involved in the CTX Suvaranbhumi Airport scandal..yes..its all incestuous here. The “red shirts” and “yellow shirts” had senior members that are cousins. In the Government today there is a Minister that is a brother of a Pheu Thai member. In the end its all rather incestuous. Ok I went off on a tangent, now back to it. I like FFPs policies, however they are new to the political game so I doubt that they would be able to push through any measures.
How could Future Forward stand a chance?
Well they are new, young, and I think they stand a chance with the younger population to win the majority of the votes within a certain demographic age group i.e. 18-30. Also I point to the absolute cock-up by the (military) government for the student exams. For Thai students this is their most important exam in their lives as it sets up where they go for university.
If a MILITARY government cannot even organise when an exam date is going to be held how can they protect our poor souls from the raging hordes of Burmese, Cambodian, Laotian, or Malaysian armies in the future. So much for military precision…Now why does this matter? Well its 500,000 students, some of voting age, its (hopefully) 2 parents per child, that’s 1,000,000 people, so they’ve pissed off 1.5 mn people who can vote (assuming all the students can vote). Just imagine you’re a parent and this happens, constant moving of your child’s most important exam, would you still believe in this government? Just a thought…
Do you really think young Thai’s care?
Going by this music video and the popularity of it, yes.
Ok, enough about FFP, who is this second white knight you mentioned?
Chadchart Sittipunt. He was the Ministry of Transport under Yingluck, CEO of QH Plc, Chulalongkorn Professor, MIT Grad etc etc, just google his name and you’ll find enough information about him. He’s currently with Pheu Thai and had rejected the overtures of the military government in the past. He comes across with an understanding of the economy, an understanding of politics, can communicate with people of all backgrounds. Simply put, he would be a fantastic choice for the Prime Minister position. And when you look at PT’s policies – they appear to be the best thought out policies amongst all of the political parties.
So will he win?
If the advisors/people/groups behind Thai Raksa et all didn’t put forth the Princess as a party leader I would’ve said yes there was a good chance for Pheu Thai to form a government despite the seats automatically given to the military. But as a result of Thai Raksa’s (Thaksin’s move) to select the (former) Princess as a choice to lead Thai Raksa they’ve f@#ked it up. It was an incredibly (I’m going to self censor myself from here onwards)…This could explain why Chadchart didn’t put his name down as a party leader for Pheu Thai. Every mistake Thaksin makes leads to the Democrats winning more seats and I see this happening again…which is a shame…given my obvious preference of Chadchart.
What did the King have to say about this?
A fantastic measured response on the same day. Here is an unofficial translation which doesn’t quite do justice to the original statement but is suffice.
C’mon Pon, give us something positive.
I expect to see a weak coalition government being formed. Pheu Thai will win the most seats, the question is only will it win enough with the other parties to prevent PPP + Military + Democrats (which I find amusing that the Democrats which are supposedly founded upon democratic principles would partner with a military party…). It could be that the swing votes will come from BJT and FFP.
Now is a weak coalition government the worst possible outcome for Thailand? No, we should define “weak”, it implies that no one group has the ability to dominate the government and therefore compromise would be required by the major groups. Perhaps this is a positive, when Thaksin et al were running things yes the economy grew but there were far too many negative outcomes and sketchy decisions (i.e. changing the law re telcos late at night and then selling AIS the next day, the rice bill, the amnesty bill, populist policies etc etc) and under the current group, again yes the economy grew but in reality only a few corporates benefited and they have been slow to act on any of the larger projects. So perhaps a coalition government is the best outcome where both parties have to give and take – a norm in this culture, neither side will be happy, but it may be best for the country.
So who will be appointed PM?
The current one, but a small part of me hopes for Chadchart.
And what is the impact for the market?
Historically the SET does rally leading up to elections, and as you can see in other markets and the SET the equity market should typically be ebullient a few months post an election. And so will history repeat itself? The question herein lies that we know that the military has effectively given themselves most of the parliament and therefore what will change? If there are no changes, then outside of a few of the major groups growing, things are still going to be at the same snail pace that they’ve always been…not the most positive outlook but it’s a probability that we should be cognizant of.
What else are you thinking about this?
Nothing that I’ll say publicly.
Wait, I expect that they’ll change the constitution again.
At the very least one Thailand is never boring.