Pita Limjaroenrat: Thai reformist leader who won election will not be PM

Pita Limjaroenrat, a Thai reformist and leader of the Move Forward party, failed in his bid to be nominated as prime minister, sparking outrage among his supporters. After winning May’s general election, he was dramatically suspended from parliament by the constitutional court, leading to a second vote being blocked to confirm him as PM. The court must now decide whether to disqualify him from parliament due to his ownership of shares in a defunct media company.

Limjaroenrat’s victory in the election was based on promises of major reforms, including amending strict royal defamation laws. However, he faced resistance from the unelected senate and conservative factions who viewed him as a threat to the monarchy. Despite forming a coalition government with other parties, he failed to secure enough votes in parliament to become prime minister, facing opposition from the appointed military-installed senators.

Move Forward is popular among young Thai voters seeking an end to conservative military rule. The party’s supporters expressed frustration and disappointment, considering Limjaroenrat as their voice in parliament. Pro-establishment campaigners filed multiple cases against him, leading to his suspension from parliament.

The Constitutional Court has a history of dissolving parties and dismissing PMs aligned with opposition figures, raising concerns about the fate of Move Forward. Limjaroenrat’s loss may not only mean giving up the top job but also a loss of influence in the new government.

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