© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Party leader Peta Limjaronrat attends a voting session on the day of the second vote for a new prime minister in parliament in Bangkok, Thailand on July 19, 2023.
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators gathered in Thailand on Sunday to show support for Peta Limgarwinrat, leader of the Move Forward party, after his latest bid for the premiership was thwarted by conservative opponents.
The Move Forward movement won the May election after receiving strong support from young people on a platform of anti-establishment policies, including military reform, an end to business monopolies and an amendment to the Royal Insult Act, which shields the powerful monarchy from criticism.
Parliament has twice prevented the Harvard-educated Peta, 42, from becoming prime minister — once last Wednesday and previously the week before — which his supporters say was due to unfair rules.
“We will continue to fight … no matter how many months we have to uphold democratic principles,” said an activist on stage, cheering the crowd at a crowded intersection in central Bangkok.
“Beta! Beta! Beta!” the crowd cheered.
Move Forward’s policies put the country on a collision course with the Royal Thai Army Association, the old money elites, and conservative forces.
The eight-party Move Forward coalition includes the populist Pheu Thai Party and controls a majority in the 500-member House of Representatives.
Under a constitution drafted by the military, the next prime minister must secure more than half of the votes in the bicameral legislature, which includes 249 members appointed by the military council after it seized power in 2014. They have sided with conservative parties.
Another vote on the premiership is scheduled for Thursday when Pheu Thai, an ally of the Move Forward coalition, proposes a candidate who is largely expected to be the new political real estate mogul Sritha Thavesen.