Pheu Thai-Future Forward ties will be tested
Political breakups normally don’t occur while the parties concerned are in the opposition bloc. There may be signs, though, and the case in point is the relationship between the Pheu Thai and Future Forward parties.
So far, the signs have been subtle. But while they can be dismissed as normal because both parties are big, widely-encompassing organizations, the signs have to do with their main purpose _ winning elections.
A news report last week suggested that Yaowapa Wongsawat, Pheu Thai’s biggest behind-the-scene influence, is well aware of Future Forward’s threat when the next election comes, which can be sooner rather than later. She has been telling national politicians of her party, particularly those in the North, that they must help local Pheu Thai politicians win rural elections. What appear to be trivial victories can go a long way toward maintaining the party’s dominance in the northern region.
It goes without saying that the Palang Pracharat Party being in the government worries her. But the report said she also pinpointed Future Forward as a threat. The new party’s fast-rising popularity shall never be underestimated, she reportedly told many people.
On another level, some Pheu Thai online “warriors” have been clashing with their Future Forward counterparts. Again, people rattle their keyboards to vent their anger or frustration through online messages all the time, but those who share the same political ideologies don’t go against each other. Hair-splitting ideological showdowns between Pheu Thai’s and Future Forward’s cyber troopers have been taking place too often for comfort.
Both parties generally appeal to the same “market” _ voters who don’t like the military and who adore Thaksin Shinawatra. Young, urban voters may also constitute a popularity base of Future Forward, but the party has been pushed more and more toward rural grassroots, Pheu Thai’s loyal “customers”. When the next election comes, both parties will find themselves competing for votes upcountry, particularly in the North and Northeast.
One of the leading activists in exile, Pavin Chachavalpongpun, has turned extremely against Future Forward, raising a lot of eyebrows. A former cheerleader of the new party, Pavin has virtually attacked virtually everything its top members do, from its “flip-flop” on the lese majeste law to “pretentious” events and activities. He basically said that Future Forward did not really care about the poor and everything was about image-building.
Pavin’s act can be dismissed as a coincidence or personal. He is always known to be pro-Pheu Thai, however, so conspiracy theorists believe there is a lot more behind his recent online activities.
But while the Pheu Thai-Future Forward ties will be tested, so will the ones between the Palang Pracharat Party and the Democrats. The situation is very much like the Pheu Thai-Future Forward doubtful alliance. The Democrat and Palang Pracharat parties seek to woo the same anti-Thaksin market and nothing will change in the next election. In fact, former Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva’s ambiguity regarding Prayut Chan-o-cha is thought to be a key reason why Thailand’s oldest political camp suffered an election humbling in March.
Simply put, Pheu Thai and Future Forward are two close friends going after the same girl. And so are the Democrats and Palang Pracharat. This kind of love stories may involve sacrifice on someone’s part, but Yaowapa emerging to remind the rest of Pheu Thai that threats can come from Future Forward is a signal that her party’s relationship with the new political star will feature all-out competition more than selflessness.