IN a strategy to win more seats, relatives and allies of deposed Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother, Thaksin, have formed a new political party ahead of the general election expected to be held early next year.
Yingluck and Thaksin’s nephew and niece are among the members of the new Thai Raksa Chart Party, which also comprised close aides and the younger generation of the influential clan’s political loyalists.
An ex-member of parliament from the Shinawatra clan’s Puea Thai Party, Peechapol Pongpanich, will be heading the new offshoot.
“It’s a political strategy for Puea Thai under the new electoral system to win more seats,” political scientist Yuttaporn Issarachai said, as quoted by Reuters.
Since ousting the democratically-elected Puea Thai Party in a 2014 coup and removing Yingluck from her post, the military government has postponed holding elections numerous times.
The elections, expected to be held between February and May, was largely seen as a contest between the military and royalist establishment, versus the populist Puea Thai Party.
Over the last decade, parties close to the Shinawatras have won every election but the new constitution amended by the military is aimed at weakening major political parties. The new constitution had also slashed constituency seats off provinces where Yingluck and Thaksin-backed parties were dominant.
Despite the coups, the Shinawatras remain immensely popular in the kingdom, especially in the northeastern provinces.
Yuttaporn said the Thai Raksa Chart Party would serve “back-up” if the military government decides to dissolve the Puea Thai Party, as the latter faced dissolution amid investigations by the Election Commission into whether Thaksin was still controlling it.
Like Yingluck, Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon was ousted in 2006 coup and he fled the country to avoid convictions on graft charges which he says were politically motivated.
Last year, Yingluck fled Thailand days of a verdict on criminal negligence charges related to a rice subsidy scheme was delivered by a court which sentenced her to a five-year jail term.