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2023 Thai Elections

I spent 6 weeks in Thailand during the run-up to the 14 May 2023 elections, during which time I visited 11 different provinces and conducted dozens of interviews, as well as attending a number of campaign events and rallies. I made several follow-up visits to Thailand in the months that followed.

This was a tumultuous election, in which the upstart Move Forward Party (successor to the now-defunct Future Forward Party, about which I wrote a book in 2020) emerged with the largest number of parliamentary seats - 151. Nevertheless, Move Forward was blocked by conservative forces aligned with the network monarchy and proved unable to form a government. Instead, a previously unthinkable coalition was formed, led by Pheu Thai and including the military-aligned Palang Pracharat and United Thai Nation Party.

Thaksin Shinawatra, the subject of another of my books, returned to Thailand after 15 years in self-imposed exile on 22 August 2023, the very day that Pheu Thai's Srettha Tavisin assumed the premiership. In the Northeast, a former Thaksin stronghold, Move Forward made striking gains, especially in the party list vote. But in the Deep South, voters found themselves represented almost entirely by government-aligned MPs, despite the fact that most Malay Muslims hold both Thaksin and the military in low regard. There is much to study and much still to explain about this extremely complicated election, and indeed about the politics of deal-making that led to the creation of the Srettha government,

My research related to the 2023 Thai election has resulted in three articles to date:

Duncan McCargo and Chanintira na Thalang, ‘The Patani Malay Dilemma: The 2023 electoral
landscape in Thailand’s Deep South’, Critical Asian Studies, 55, 2023.

Duncan McCargo, ‘The Real Deal: Results versus Outcomes of the 2023 Thai General Election’,
Pacific Affairs, 97, 1, 2024, 79–97.

Thareerat Laohabut and McCargo, 'Thailand’s Movement Party: The Evolution of the Move Forward        Party.' Journal of East Asian Studies. Published online 2024:1-23. doi:10.1017/jea.2024.1