Opinion: Thai Electorates and Political Dysphoria

Former leader of Move Forward party Pita Limjaroenrat during a press conference on the party's plan to defend in its dissolution case at the party's office in Bangkok on June 9, 2024.
Former leader of Move Forward party Pita Limjaroenrat during a press conference on the party's plan to defend in its dissolution case at the party's office in Bangkok on June 9, 2024.

The main opposition Move Forward Party could soon be dissolved, and leaders banned from politics for 10 years for pledging to amend the royal defamation law. Would there be a large street protest if that happened?

PM Srettha Thavisin could soon be removed from office for having appointed Pichit Cheunban as PM Office Minister despite the latter having been charged for attempted bribery of a judge in the past. Could there be a mass demonstration if it happened?

Ex-PM-cum-ex-convict Thaksin Shinawatra, who is the de facto leader of the Pheu Thai Party and still on parole, will very soon be indicted for royal defamation. Will there be a big protest if Thaksin was found guilty and sentenced back to ‘prison’ anew?

Allow me to focus on the first case first. Why are there no massive protests yet given the political dysphoria about what may happen to MFP and the fact that over two hundred people have been charged under the controversial draconian law?


Bear in mind that only a few dozen showed up outside the Criminal Court when lese majeste detainee Bung Thaluwang passed away inside Corrections Department Hospital a month ago on May 14 after a long hunger strike. One would have expected hundreds if not thousands in front of the court but only a few dozen showed up to vent their anger at the justice system.

Fatigue after years of massive protests on the streets of Bangkok with little gain among the monarchy-reform movement may be a factor. Political disillusionment and dysphoria could lead to either a very strong active reaction manifesting in street protests, and more, or a sense of political apathy and withdrawal.

Also, the movement, in which majority of the members are young educated middle-class Thais, may have different thresholds of what is acceptable and what is not. Not all want to go to prison and or see Thailand turning into a republic. They have different levels of commitment and willingness to pay the price for their belief, not unlike sponsors of events in the private sector that could be divided into silver, gold, or platinum supporters or sponsors.

We will see if MFP is dissolved and people including former Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat are banned from politics as to how angry these people can and will be, however.


As for Srettha, he is an outsider brought into politics to the top job by the Pheu Thai Party and has little popular support in the wider circle, so the reactions on his fate, if he ends up being removed, would very much depend on how the ruling Pheu Thai Party would react and decide. If the party thinks the damage can still be contained, they will definitely not wage an all-out war with the deep state but seek a viable replacement.

Thus, Srettha’s future is hinged on not just the Charter Court but also on the Pheu Thai Party (and Thaksin).

As for Thaksin, he had never spent a full day in proper prison when he was sentenced last year and there is little sign to believe he will go to a real jail this time. Sentencing Thaksin to the General Police Hospital again could be very upsetting for his supporters, but many are getting old after more than two decades of Thaksin in politics. The Pheu Thai Party has a strong political machinery connected to the grassroots in rural Thailand, however.