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Thailand’s Political Tides Shift: Worker-Backed Reform Parties Triumph

The progressive Move Forward Party (MFP) and the populist Pheu Thai Party have secured a significant victory in Thailand’s general election, winning about 286 seats in the 500-member House of Representatives. The MFP, a youth-led party advocating for bold reforms including reducing the power of the monarchy and the military, has emerged as the largest party, winning 147 seats according to preliminary results.

This election marks a turning point for Thailand, indicating a public appetite for change, with high voter turnout observed nationwide.

Although MFP’s triumph indicates a desire for reform among the electorate, the formation of the next government remains uncertain due to parliamentary rules that allow a military-appointed Senate to vote on the prime minister. Thus, the MFP and Pheu Thai Party will need support from smaller parties to establish a new administration.

Sriprai Nonsee, from our partner union organisation in Thailand, the Rangsit and Area Labour Union Group (RLUG) commented on the election results and said:

“Many workers have voted for the Move Forward Party because they want to see reform of both the military and the monarchy. They also support the MFP policy for a Welfare State when less money is spent on the military and the minimum wage is lifted from 335 baht per day to 450.

Many of our workers have been campaigning together with the young people’s movement since the 2014 military coup. Three ex-workers are amongst those who have been elected to Parliament – from the textile, garment and car parts sectors.”


The Southeast Asia Research Initiative (SEARI) at the University of Canterbury will be hosting a roundtable discussion, in Christchurch and via Zoom, on the 25th May.

Voting for Democratic Change: The 2023 Thai Elections
Thursday, 25 May 2023
3:30-5:00 pm
Locke 611 (University of Canterbury) and via Zoom

About the event:

On May 14, Thailand held its second parliamentary election since the 2014 coup. Despite systemic advantages embedded in the military-drafted constitution, pro-junta parties were soundly defeated. This outcome was widely expected, due to economic malaise and dissatisfaction with the military-backed government. However, few, if any, predicted that the Move Forward party, a new party campaigning on reform of the military and the lèse-majesté law, would win the most seats, ahead of the Pheu Thai party, which had easily won the most seats in every election since 2001. How do we explain this surprising victory of the Move Forward party? What does it mean for Thai democracy, the Thai military, and the future of Thai politics?


  • James Ockey (University of Canterbury)
  • Punchada Siribunnabood (Mahidol University)
  • Suthikarn Meechan (Mahasarakham University)
  • Pinsuda Wonganan (Chiang Mai University)

Please email naimah.talib@canterbury.ac.nz for the link, if you want to join by Zoom.

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