Thailand’s new Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin pledged to unite the country and move it forward after a bitterly fought general election and months-long political impasse over government formation polarized voters.
(Bloomberg) — Thailand’s new Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin pledged to unite the country and move it forward after a bitterly fought general election and months-long political impasse over government formation polarized voters.
Srettha formally received a royal endorsement from Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn at a traditional ceremony on Wednesday, a day after the former property tycoon won a parliament vote by a near two-third majority.
Srettha, 61, is Thailand’s first new leader since 2014, when former army chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha staged a coup. He was backed by 482 lawmakers from a maximum of 747 in a joint sitting of the parliament on Tuesday.
Challenges awaiting the new premier include a society deeply polarized by post-election turmoil, a fragile economic recovery and household debt nationwide that has soared to a record high since a coup in 2014 lead to a near-decade of military-backed rule.
“The next four years will be about change,” Srettha, clad in a white uniform, told a gathering of party officials and lawmakers at the headquarters of his Pheu Thai Party. “Thailand is at a critical juncture and needs urgent solutions to crises, be it the economy, livelihoods, security, society, foreign affairs, the environment, laws, and the judicial process.”
The incoming prime minister said his government’s policies and programs will foster development and usher in changes at the macro as well as household levels. Srettha also vowed to manage the state budget with transparency, efficiency and discipline.
The new premier will lead an 11-party coalition government that includes Pheu Thai, backed by former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and military aligned parties. He is expected to finalize his cabinet line-up in the coming days.
Srettha’s win came on a day when Thaksin returned to Thailand for the first time in 15 years as part of a deal with a military establishment that has repeatedly ousted his political allies over the past two decades. Pheu Thai had finished second to the upstart Move Forward party, which had pushed for changes to a law that restricts criticism of the nation’s powerful monarchy.
Thaksin, who was sent to prison upon his arrival to serve an eight-year jail term for his role in corruption cases, was moved to a hospital on Wednesday after he complained of chest pain and hypertension.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.