Pita vows to lead Thailand and reform the monarchy after shock landslide win

In his first speech since last night’s upset win for his upstart political party, Pita Limjaroenrat struck a confident note in his ability to form a ruling coalition and vowed to move forward with its plans to reform Thailand – including the monarchy.

Pita laid out an alliance with six opposition parties including Pheu Thai, which his Move Forward vanquished in a landslide win according to unofficial returns, and said for anyone thinking of thwarting the will of voters that “it will be quite a hefty price to pay.”

“I am ready to be prime minister for all, whether you agree with me or don’t agree with me,” he told reporters.

He says that along with the Prachachat, Thai Sang, Seri Ruam Thai, and Pentham parties, they have 309 of 500 votes in lower house, and would win over support in the upper house. “I feel safe to assume we will be able to establish a majority.”

Thailand must ‘Move Forward,’ voters roar in rebuke to military rule

That remains an uphill battle. The entire upper house of 250 senators is appointed by the military, each of which can vote for the next prime minister. Wresting power from the military will require 376 votes in total.

Questions about whether Pheu Thai would join ranks with the party that eclipsed it were settled soon after Pita spoke. Party leader Chonlanan Srikaew said it would sign on to a Move Forward Party-led coalition.

Asked today about his party’s vow to reform the monarchy, Pita did not mince words.

“We’re going forward with the lese majeste amendment in the parliament,” he said, adding that they have enough lawmakers on board to move it forward, unlike the last time it sank under procedural rules. “The house didn’t allow it to happen, or some hiccups along the way, but we’ll pass that in this parliament.”

Noting that “there’s always resistance,” he said the way the issue solved – through parliamentary procedure at the behest of the people – was important.

“Whether you want it stricter or you want it on an international comparison, that’s your right to cast that into the parliament. and let your member of parliament discuss it with transparency, with maturity, and then we’ll resolve this conflict going forward on how the role of the monarchy should be in the 21st century of Thailand.”

He said that he had called to congratulate Paetongtarn Shinawatra on Pheu Thai’s performance and invited them to join his coalition. Pheu Thai had been the odds on favorite to prevail last night, and Move Forward’s landslide win in the popular vote signaled a public looking to turn the page from decades of arm wrestling between the military and Shinawatra clan.

“The sentiment of the area has changed,” he said “It was the right timing that people have been through enough of a lost decade, the past decade. Today is a new day.”

To Thais who have been discouraged by the past decade’s slide, he rattled off a list of reasons to have hope, including a future that is “fully democratic, system more than personalized politics, very decentralized, a kind of economy that’s fair that works for everyone not just the 1% on top, ability to be flexible and be prepared to respond to the challenges that are coming to the world whether it’s pandemic disruption, climate change, aging society.”

“These are the things that will make them feel they don’t want to go out of the country and be part of nation-building in this country,” he said.

Foreign policy

As for Thailand’s foreign posture under his government, Pita repeated one of his favorite lines that the “new world order is no world order” and said it “has to start with rule-based diplomacy.”

“It’s not acceptable for bigger states to aggress on smaller states no more,” he said in a break from the military government’s coziness with Russia. “And mid-sized countries and Thailand have to stick together and contribute to the stability of the region as well as contribute to the security of the world.”

On Myanmar

Pita said the first step was to establish a humanitarian corridor between Thailand and Myanmar. Thailand should work with the international community “to make sure we have the right amount of pressure and incentives for the people of myanmar to resolve their own conflict.”

But he noted that Thailand has an indispensable role to play in achieving ASEAN’s “five-point consensus” announced two years ago to end the conflict. The militaries of Thailand and Myanmar enjoy close ties and a propensity to do coups. Thailand’s military has been accused of facilitating the arrest and return of anti-coup pro-democracy activists hiding on the Thai side of the porous border.


As for China’s alignment in an increasingly multipolar world, Pita said that Thailand should approach issues on a case-by-case basis of mutual interests without choosing sides. 

“We need to stick to the rules of what’s possible and not possible and be able to think of foreign policy more of an a la carte than a buffet,” he said.

But, the Harvard-educated 42-year-old made clear that Thailand should be a good “global citizen.”

“I think it’s really important for global citizens to stick together and make sure the world going forward is going to be a rules-based world,” he added. “To make sure that right is might, and might is not right.”

Thais warned of curtailed rights for those who did not vote

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