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As government formation remains in deadlock, protests have been taking place across the country against attempts to block the Move Forward Party from leading a government and demanding the resignation of the Senate. Activists also demand that the Pheu Thai Party, now tasked with forming a government, not bring into the coalition any parties that supported leaders of the 2014 coup.

Protesters at Asoke Intersection on Sunday night (23 July)

The protests followed the Constitutional Court’s decision to suspend Pita Limjaroenrat, Move Forward Party’s leader and Prime Minister candidate, from parliamentary duties while it considers whether to disqualify him for holding shares in the now-defunct iTV broadcasting company. On 19 July, parliament also voted that no Prime Minister candidate can be nominated more than once, preventing Pita from being re-nominated during the current parliament’s term. The Move Forward Party subsequently announced that the Pheu Thai Party is now leading the government formation.

Chiang Mai protest against court ruling

Protesters gathering at Tha Phae gate (Photo by Krerkburin Kerngburi)

During the evening of 19 July, a protest took place at Tha Phae gate, a tourist landmark in Chiang Mai’s old town, against the Constitutional Court’s decision to suspend Pita and parliament’s decision to prohibit repeated nominations of the same Prime Minister candidate.

Protesters, activists, and academics from Chiang Mai University took turn speaking during the protest. Nuthamon Kongcharoen, Dean of Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Law, condemned parliament’s action as the destruction of the country’s constitutional and legal foundations. She said that the country has come very far in the last 3 – 4 years since the student-led protests of 2020, which started conversations about things that used to be taboo in society, and called on people to stand up for their own rights.

Meanwhile, Doi, a member of the Chiang Mai Barista Union, called for a nation-wide strike in protest, saying that unionizing is the only power workers have. He said that while the country’s GDP continues to grow, wages are not rising, and that workers deserve a better life.

Kasetsart University students demand resignation of the Senate

Protesters gathering in front of Kasetsart University's auditorium (Photo by Ginger Cat)

On 21 July, students at Kasetsart University’s Bangkhen campus staged a protest calling for senators to resign. They also demanded that the 8 parties in the government coalition stay together and not make any compromises on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) they signed and the policies they promised.

During the protest, students raised a black flag with the message “Respect My Vote” onto the flag poll in front of the university auditorium, while the song “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from the musical Les Misérables played in the background.

Pleng, one of the students who called the protest, said that the students want to raise awareness about the situation and to stop any action that disrespects the people and their vote. She said that senators deserve to be criticized and sanctioned for betraying the people, and that they have to face the consequences of their actions.

“There is no country in the world where we have voted and got a Prime Minister and a majority but we still have to get the approval of some random people who were appointed by a dictatorship,” Pleng said.

“In the end, their evil action is a betrayal of the people by disrespecting the majority by not voting for Pita Limjaroenrat or abstaining.”

Pleng also said that the students raised the black flag to mourn the death of justice in the country, after the party that won the election was blocked from leading the government. She said that people now know what is going on, but are being silenced by those in power, and these people will have to pay one day.

“[The Senate] ripped up every principle to get into power. Ultimately, are you doing it for the people or who are you doing it for?” she asked. 

Students raising the black flag (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Several students joining the protest said that they would like the Pheu Thai Party to stay with the 8-party coalition and not to work with former coup leaders or their supporters. First-year student Pang said that senators’ parliamentary speeches show their lack of maturity. She said that although Pheu Thai has the right to try to form a government because they came second in the election, Move Forward is the rightful leader of the new government because they came first in the election and were shamelessly blocked. Pang also said that she would like the Pheu Thai government to implement Move Forward’s policies, including amending the royal defamation law, as it oppresses the people.

Mind, a second-year student, said it is necessary that Pheu Thai is now forming a government, because there is no other choice, noting that she voted for Move Forward in the election and that it is not right that the result of the election has been discarded.

Mind said that she would like Pheu Thai not to work with coup leaders, their parties, or parties that support them like the Bhumjaithai Party. She also said that the Senate should not be voting for a Prime Minister because senators were not elected, and that  the Senate should be abolished.

Feminist groups hold flash mob against the Senate

Friday night (21 July)'s gathering at BACC

At 19.00 on 21 July, feminist activist groups Feminist’s Liberation Front Thailand and Feminist Foo Foo held a protest in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, during which they placed pieces of paper for people to write messages to the Senate. They also held a short free mic session where people could come up to speak about the current situation. After a short moment of silence in protest against the attempts to block the winning party’s candidate from becoming Prime Minister, protesters danced around on a large Pride flag before the protest ended.

Non-binary gender equality activist Mimi said that people are already being oppressed in their daily lives, while patriarchy has made politics a matter for men. They said that protests can take many forms and use different methods of expression like dancing, and are not limited to speeches or other masculine means.

Mimi said that LGBTQ rights activists have been working for a long time to get to this point, and even if the new parliament does not pass the marriage equality law, the country has changed and that it is more of a long-term movement.

Pheu Thai must end negotiation with coup supporters, say activists

Activists bringing their poll to the Pheu Thai Party headquarters (Photo by Ginger Cat)

On Sunday (23 July), activists went to the Pheu Thai Party headquarters as leaders of the Palang Pracharat party came to discuss government formation with Pheu Thai leaders. They conducted a poll on whether people agree with Pheu Thai’s entering into a coalition with coup supporters and tried to get into the party’s press conference to ask if they are going to work with coup supporters.

After reports that a press conference would instead be held at Palang Pracharath headquarters, the activists left, but later returned as Pheu Thai leaders held a press conference about their discussion. They were blocked by police officers who prevented them from going into the press conference, so the activists left to join another protest at the Asoke Intersection.

Activist Netiporn Sanesangkhom said they wanted answers from the Pheu Thai leaders about whether they are going to form a government with coup supporters, but could not find any of the party’s executives. She asked if the party feels uncomfortable answering such questions, noting that the party must be able to answer people’s questions no matter how it’s asked because they were only in power because of their voters.

Netiporn said that the activists wanted to call on the 8-party coalition to stay together. It doesn’t matter how a government is formed, she said, but the parties have to respect the people’s conditions by staying together and not compromise on the policies stated in their MOU. Pheu Thai must also not work with Bhumjaithai or other parties the activists see as anti-democracy, because the party promised to only work with democratic parties.

Protest at Asoke calls on parliament to respect people’s vote

Protesters gathering at Asoke Intersection on Sunday night (23 July) despite the rain (Photo by Ginger Cat)

On Sunday (21 July), activist Sombat Boonngamanong led a protest to call on parliament and political parties to respect the result of the election and the promises they made to the people. Protesters gathered at Asoke intersection despite the rain, and at one point marched around the intersection shouting “Senators get out.”

Sombat said that he was hoping more people would join the protest, but since it was raining, he thought the crowd was large enough and said that next time they would march.

Kam, a protester who was selling orange ribbons during the protest, said that she voted Move Forward in the election and can no longer stand the situation. She also said she is not happy that discussions were held with parties that support the former coup leaders. She also said that she prefers to wait to get a government the people want and not to rush into any collaboration.

“The real problem right now is that the senators won’t vote for us,” Kam said, noting that she thinks it is not a problem to wait until the Senate’s term end because the senators were appointed by coup leaders and should not be deciding the country’s direction. She believes that problems with the economy or the Constitution will not be solved if the former government parties join the new government, and if the rules remain the same, future elections will also face the same problems.

Meanwhile, Kaek, a former Red Shirt protester, said he voted Pheu Thai in the election, but 14 million people voted Move Forward. He noted that the rule is that the winning party should lead government formation, but it can’t because nonsensical excuses are being used. He said that Pheu Thai should stay with the 8-party coalition and not to bring in any of the former government parties, because a minority government is not possible. He also said that Pheu Thai and Move Forward must stay on the same side.

Kaek said he can wait until the Senate’s term end for a new government to be formed because he has waited for the past 8 – 9 years and the last government has done a lot of damage to the country. He said that political parties should keep in mind what their voters are going to think of them if they don’t keep their promises.

“I can wait for a democratic government with a policy to bring back normal democracy to Thai society,” he said

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