August 2023 | Parliament votes in new prime minister
On 22 August, Thailand's parliament elected Srettha Thavisin from the opposition Pheu Thai Party (PTP) as the new prime minister, concluding a three-month political impasse. This followed failed attempts by Move Forward Party's (MFP) leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, to secure sufficient support for the position from a military-appointed Senate after winning a plurality in the May polls. Before the failed bid, MFP and PTP had taken steps to form an eight-party coalition. Srettha's election coincides with PTP's decision to form an 11-party coalition that includes two pro-military parties. Move Forward Party was excluded due to its commitment to reform the royal defamation law. Political analysts have expressed uncertainty about Srettha's ability to govern effectively due to PTP's “numerical disadvantage compared to conservative partners in the coalition.” Srettha, considered a "political newcomer," has vowed to address income inequality, LGBTQIA+ rights, and corruption.
July 2023 | Parliament blocks prime ministerial bid of election-winner
Despite the Move Forward Party's (MFP) decisive victory in May's general election, its leader Pita Limjaroenrat's attempts at becoming prime minister have been blocked twice by failure to garner enough support from the unelected, military-appointed Senate. The senate rejections occurred against the backdrop of two legal actions pursued against Pita and MFP over the past month, viewed by some human rights experts as being politically driven. The Constitutional Court (CC) suspended Pita from parliament on 19 July due to allegations from the Election Commission (EC) that he violated electoral rules by owning shares in a media company. Another case questions whether MFP's aim to amend the lèse-majesté law constitutes treason. Political analysts have criticized the expedited proceedings of the EC and CC, calling into question their impartiality and manipulation by the military-backed conservative elites.
May 2023 | Thai election delivers landslide victory for opposition
Thailand’s general election on 14 May delivered a historic win to the opposition Move Forward (MFP) and Pheu Thai (PTP) parties. Voter turnout was the highest on record at 75.2 per cent, with election observers stating that the increased participation of civil society and media led to a more transparent election than that of the 2019 ballot. Official estimates on women’s political representation have not yet been updated. Preliminary results show MFP, a progressive party promising monarchy and military reforms securing the most seats, with Thai voters rejecting nearly a decade of military-backed rule. The official election results are expected to be announced in mid-July. Yet the opposition's path toward securing power remains uncertain due to a military junta-scripted 2017 constitution that allowed the establishment to appoint all 250 members of the Senate. MFP and PTP's combined seats still fall short of the 376 votes needed to name a new prime minister. On 22 May, MFP took steps to form a coalition with PTP as well as six other minor parties. The pact includes drafting a new constitution, legalizing same-sex marriage, and replacing military conscription with voluntary recruitment, to name a few. The eight-party coalition now holds 313 seats in the House and will need to convince conservative parliamentarians or senators to support its PM candidate.
February 2023 | Law countering torture and enforced disappearances delayed
The Thai cabinet issued a decree on 19 February postponing the implementation of two articles of the Act on Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance until 1 October 2023, citing a lack of equipment and personnel required to enforce the law. The law, following several years of delay, was scheduled to go into effect on 22 February and would require police to record arrests and interrogations, as well as prohibit enforced disappearances. Rights experts have denounced the delay as unjustified and said it will allow officials to continue to engage in abusive practices.