Faction demands Democrats resist junta

An anti-junta faction inside the Democrat Party has emerged calling for the Democrat Party not to support Prayut Chan-o-cha to be the next Prime Minister of Thailand.

New Dem leader Parit Wacharasindhu (front) 
(Source: Parit Wacharasindhu)

On Tuesday (27 May), a representative of the Phalang Pracharat Party came to meet the Democrat Party to arrange a government coalition, but Watchara Petchthong, a former party-list Democrat MP, made an appearance in front of Democrat Party’s office with a sign reading “Do not support Prayut to be PM.”

“Many members of the Democrat Party told me to deliver this message,” said Watchara. “Abhisit Vejjajiva, the former leader of the party, took a political stance. I am a member of the party, and I agree with his stance,” said Watchara.

Abhisit Vejjajiva announced during the election campaign that he would not support Prayut Chan-o-cha and resigned as the leader of the party after the party got fewer MPs than expected.

On 16 May, Abhisit made an appearance in an interview with Kanawat Chantaralawan, a member of the New Dem faction in the party, who did not get to be an MP. Abhisit insisted that 3.9 million people have voted for the party because of what he said and the party should keep its promise, but now it depends on the new leadership.    

On Tuesday 27, Parit Wacharasindhu, Abhisit’s nephew and the leader of New Dem faction, also demanded that the Democrat Party not join the Phalang Pracharat Party, which will support Prayut Chan-o-cha to be the prime minister.

“I understand that the image now makes it irresistible for people to think that the Democrat Party has decided,” posted Parit on Facebook. “But yesterday, Chuan was chosen to be the Speaker of the House, and the party still has no resolution to join the government. I hope it’s not too late to decide that we will lead legislation with neutrality and work as an independent opposition.”  

Thanat "Nat" Thanakitamnuay, a leader of the PDRC anti-Thaksin campaign which led to the military coup in 2014, but now a member of anti-junta New Dem faction, and a son of the millionaire Kitti Thanakitamnuay, CEO of Noble Development plc, also posted on Facebook he will remain in the Democrat Party but suspend his political role if the Democrats support Prayut Chan-o-cha.

However, it is doubtful whether the anti-junta faction in the Democrat Party is strong enough to change the party’s direction. In the last general election in March, more than 30 members of New Dem faction ran for MP, but only 2 won seats: Chaichana Detdecho in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, and Sunatcha Losathaphonphiphit in Trang.

A campaign has also emerged on Change.org calling for the Democrat Party to work as an independent opposition. So far, a thousand people have joined the cause.