Former deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak has accepted an invitation to serve as a prime ministerial candidate of the newly established Sang Anakhot Thai Party (Building Thailand’s Future).
Party secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong said on Sunday that Mr. Somkid is willing to be the candidate after he was approached for the role.
“But it is still too early to officially announce a candidate for prime minister because it is still not known when the election will be held. Other parties have not declared their candidates yet either,” Mr. Sontirat said.
Mr. Sontirat, a former energy minister in the Prayut Chan-o-cha government, said the party is now sufficiently staffed and equipped, with a board of executive members elected at its general assembly last Wednesday. The meeting marked the party’s readiness to get fully engaged in politics, with a series of political activities to be held in preparation for the election, Mr. Sontirat said.
He said people from many circles have expressed an interest in joining the party, and the party plans to field candidates to contest in all 400 constituencies nationwide in the next election.
“People are in trouble so we have to offer them an alternative,” Mr. Sontirat said.
At the party’s general assembly, Uttama Savanayana was elected party leader while Mr. Sontirat was named the party’s secretary-general. The former leader and secretary-general of the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), respectively, resigned from the ruling party and their cabinet posts in 2020 due to internal conflict.
Mr. Somkid, who was deputy prime minister at the time, also stepped down from the government, citing health problems.
Addressing the gathering of party members and supporters at the general assembly in Nonthaburi, Mr. Uttama said the party would invite Mr. Somkid to be a candidate for prime minister under the banner of the party, whose goal was to solve economic hardship. He said the party has brought together specialists from the public and private sectors and members of the younger generation to serve in the people’s interest.
The party’s policies were to strengthen the economy, empower human resources and promote constructive politics, among others.
Stithorn Thananithichot, director of the Office of Innovation for Democracy at King Prajadhipok’s Institute, told the Bangkok Post that Sang Anakhot Thai Party is another alternative party, while some of its executives were formerly co-founders of the PPRP.
“At first sight, this party seems to be a spare party for the PPRP,” Mr Stithorn said before adding that he believed the party could also serve as an ally of the Pheu Thai Party if the main opposition party wins a landslide at the election.
Mr. Stithorn said Mr. Somkid has established himself as a scholar well-versed in economics and also a well-connected figure with a great deal of clout. “The type of politician like Mr. Somkid is rare,” Mr. Stithorn said. Phichai Ratnatilaka Na Bhuket, a political science lecturer at the National Institute of Development Administration, said he did not think Mr. Somkid would offer anything new for economic development considering he was a former deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs.
Mr. Phichai also predicted the next election would see the blurring or elimination of political polarisation, depending on how benefit-sharing plays out among politicians.
“We may see the PPRP and Pheu Thai form a coalition government. Everything is possible, hinging on the poll outcome and negotiations which follow,” Mr. Phichai said.
But Chaiyan Chaiyaporn, a lecturer in Chulalongkorn University’s political science faculty, said Mr. Somkid has what it takes to become government leader as his economic prowess will be a great boon for revitalising the economy hit by Covid-19.