THE “whistle-blowing” protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban is wavering about whether to break his pledge of not becoming involved in politics again and may lead a party based on his “great mass of people” movement, according to a source near the former politician.movement, according to a source near the former politician.
Suthep was the leader of the defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which occupied Bangkok from 2013 to 2014 in opposition to Yingluck Shinawatra’s government.
The PDRC, whose members blew whistles during public protests, went into hiatus after the 2014 coup before being reincarnated as the People’s Democratic Reform Foundation (PDRF), which is still headed by Suthep.
As almost all PDRF figures, including Suthep himself, were Democrat Party politicians, the movement is often seen as the Democrats’ grassroots branch, similar to how Pheu Thai Party and the red-shirt movement are related.
According to the source, a former key PDRC figure, Suthep has decided to be a member of the prospective party, without accepting any crucial post so he could keep a pledge he made during the PDRC era.
“But many people disagree, seeing Suthep as a suitable choice to lead the party,” the source said. “If that’s the case, he may have to make a public apology, with the reason that it’s necessary for him to return to politics to carry on his mission.”
The party has gathered 200 prospective members and aims to reach about 500 members. It plans to inform the Election Commission (EC) by next month before making a public debut in May.
Its members plan to become a middle-sized party, expecting to win 15 to 20 constituency MPs and about 30 party-list MPs.
The name is not settled yet. The first choice could be derived from the PDRC’s full name in Thai, which can be translated as “people’s party for changes and reforms of Thailand for complete democracy under a [constitutional] monarchy”. The second choice, meanwhile, could be as simple as “Great Mass of People Party”.
The party will stick to its original principles regarding reforms considered to have been undone by the junta government. Related policies and draft laws on “national reform” are expected to be promoted.
New parties have been registering with the EC since Friday to compete in the next election, currently promised by the junta to be held by next February, under the 2017 Constitution.
The charter, which introduces many new election instruments, is seen by critics as helping middle and small-sized parties to gain more parliamentary seats, which would ultimately affect the voting for the next prime minister.