POLITICAL PARTIES

Pheu Thai - has been Thailand’s most popular party for the past two decades. Winning its first elections outing in 2001 under the guise of the Thais Love Thais party, and founded by billionaire telecoms tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, it won just shy of a majority, a feat it achieved in the subsequent 2015 elections. Dissolved following the 2006 coup, the first successor party, the People’s Power Party won the 2007 elections, needing just a small coalition party to secure a majority. The party suffered two prime ministerial ejections before being dissolved in 2007. Coming back in the 2011 elections in its current form of Pheu Thai (For Thais) party, it won an outright majority again, but lost popularity from some of its own supporters due to an unpopular amnesty bill it brought to the floor of the House, as well as a failed rice price scheme that harmed its rural base. Pheu Thai was overthrown by the 2014 coup, but was never dissolved.

Two Main Parties

Democrat Party - one of Thailand’s longest standing parties, the Democrat party routinely wins most of the seats in the Southern region, and retains popularity in the capital, Bangkok. Once seen as the most policy-oriented party, its reputation has suffered in the face of Thaksin’s set of popular policies as well as its ambivalence toward democracy itself, supporting mass street protests against pro-Thaksin governments, as well as tacitly supporting both 2006 and 2014 coups. The Democrat party has announced its intention to not support Prayuth as prime minister. It seems to be the key potential coalition broker in these upcoming elections.

Palang Pracharat - this is the official vehicle for current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s bid to remain in power. Its policies therefore mimic the 20-year National Strategy that Prayuth enshrined in the 2017 constitution.

Pro-military parties

Action Coalition for Thailand - founded by Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), the main pressure group of the 2013–14 street protests, which toppled the Yingluck government. ACT is an outspoken critic of any individual or group that demonstrates any amount of opposition to the military.

Chat Thai Pattana - a party with support concentrated around the Suphanburi province of the Central region, and led by the influential Silpa-archa clan. It is a shrewd player in Thai politics, and has supported both Thaksin and anti-Thaksin parties in the past.

"Neutral" parties

Bhumjaithai - Initially a splinter party from Thais Love Thais, Bhumjaithai played a similar role to Chat Thai Pattana as a king-maker, and looks as if it could swing its support behind either side of the divide. Bhumjaithai derives the majority of its support from the Isan region, centered around Newin Chidchob’s stronghold in Buriram province.

Prachachart - A group of Muslim candidates from the Deep South.Most interested in solving the region’s almost two-decade long civil war, the party has said it is open to supporting Prayuth. The group used to be supporters of Pheu Thai, however.

Anti-military parties

Future Forward Party - this is a new party in the 2019 election. An unapologetically anti-military, pro-democratic party, its leader, young business tycoon Thanathorn, is extremely popular among young voters. With an estimated 7-8 million new voters having joined the electorate since the last valid elections in 2011, the Future Forward party will take advantage for the German-style electoral rules, which ultimately assign seats on a strictly proportional basis.

Pro-Thaksin minor parties

Thai Raksa Chart - this is the party that made international headlines last month by taking the bold move of nominating a member of the royal family, Princess Ubonrat, as its candidate for Prime Minister. It was subsequently dissolved. Thai Raksa Chart were a pro-Thaksin party, strategically created in case Pheu Thai were dissolved.