Thanathorn sent a message of thanks to all supporters of the party in 2019 in a Facebook message on Saturday. It talks of a struggle to ‘bring back democracy’ in 2020. It comes as a significant opinion poll published on Sunday shows him as the popular choice for Prime Minister with 31.42% support against 23.74% opted for the incumbent, General Prayut Chan ocha, who remains more popular than his government.

Thailand’s Future Forward Party and it’s young leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has emerged in a number of opinion polls as the most popular politician in the kingdom and the people’s first choice for prime minister as his party appears to have surged in popularity even as legal moves are underway to have it dissolved and to have its key leaders banned from Thai politics.

A NIDA poll shows Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (centre) is the most popular choice for prime minister with 31.42% support followed by the incumbent General Prayut Chan ocha who still maintains support but whose government’s popularity is waning with the country’s economic prospects. The kingdom’s most admired person for 2019 was Bin Bunluerit (left) who single-handedly raised hundreds of millions of baht for flood victims in northern Thailand and led a huge rescue mission.

As the Thai government keeps a close eye on the economy and the drought conditions in the north, it faces perhaps its biggest political challenge in the coming months as the Constitutional Court is due to rule on a case against the radical Future Forward Party on January 21st brought by an activist seeking its dissolution on the basis that its policy platform is seditious.

This month, the court ruled that it did not require any further evidence to adjudicate on the matter before it. In recent days, the court also has taken up a case referred to it by the Election Commission based on its statutory and constitutional duties, seeking the dissolution of the party based on hefty loans totalling ฿192 million advanced by it by its co-founder, Mr Thanathorn, which that body claims are illegal.

Dissolution of the party would see all key leaders banned from Thai politics for 10 years

A ban or dissolution of the political party would see its key members barred from Thai politics for up to 10 years. 

The new party, formed in 2018, representing a younger face of Thai politics has become the main focus of opposition to the government in recent months and the target of conservative activists as well as senior army leaders who see it as intent on altering Thailand’s traditional and conservative ethos revolving around the country’s cultural and religious values, its dedication to the monarchy and what conservatives see as the traditional and positive role of the military in protecting the nation. 

Defiant part leader staged a flash mob protest on December 14th which has sparked support

On December 14th, the leader of the political party and key leaders, only hours after the Election Commission called or its dissolution, made its position crystal clear when it launched a flash mob protest in the Pathumwan area in Bangkok attending up over 3,000 protestors and which later dominated news and media coverage.

At the conclusion of the rally, Mr Thanathorn voiced support for a protest run against the Prime Minister on January 12th next.

Mr Thanathorn and another Future Forward candidate have since being charged by police in relation to that event.

New Year’s message talks about fighting to ‘bring back democracy’ as he thanks followers

This week, in advance of the new year, Mr Thanathorn has released a message in which he acknowledges 2019 as a tough year where some mistakes were made but thanked followers of the party for their support and all their combined actions during the year which showed that party’s leaders were not fighting alone.

 The message was posted on Facebook on Saturday 28th December. ‘We thank you and appreciate everything you gave us,’ the young political leader said. ‘These things indicate that we did not struggle alone. There are many people who will fight and walk with us until we remove the tears of those who are suffering, and bring back democracy.’

Party preparing for dissolution

In the last week, it appears more and more obvious that the political leadership of Future Forward is preparing for circumstances in which the party is disbanded, a situation which will lead to new, unchartered waters in the current political landscape.

Party and leader top the polls – the most popular choice for Prime Minister, Prayut is in second place

This comes as support for the leader appears to be at a high in a series of credible opinion polls released this week by the Bangkok Post newspaper.

In one poll, conducted by the National Institute for Development Administration or NIDA, not only does Mr Thanathorn emerge as the most popular choice for prime minister but his party polls as, by far and away, the most popular political grouping.

The poll still showed that General Prayut personally maintains popularity and support as he emerged as the second choice with 23.74% of people surveyed compared to the younger man’s rating of 31.42%.

Poll had a large sample and was carried out from December 18th to 20th, days after the protest

The poll shows a remarkable surge in support for Future Forward and is all the more impressive as NIDA polls have shown themselves to be quite accurate this year.

The poll, which was conducted from December 18th to 20th, also had a very large sample of over 2,500 people from all classes, professions and areas in Thailand. The poll showed Pheu Thai’s Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan coming in at third place with nearly 12% support.

Future Forward’s support jumps as it becomes the main focus of government opposition

Across political parties, the poll shows waning support for the current government with Future Forward now emerging as the most popular party with over 30% support from the public while Pheu Thai was nearly at 20%.

This suggests that the party has nearly doubled its support and become the main focus of public opposition to the government.

The Palang Pracharat Party still have nearly 17% support while the Democrat Party trailed in at nearly 11%. Support for the Bhumjaithai Party appears to have collapsed.

Thanathorn the favourite politician while foundation leader Bin Bunluerit is the most admired person

In another poll conducted for the Bangkok Post newspaper by Bangkok University,  Mr Thanathorn also emerges as Thailand’s favourite politician while Bin Bunluerit, the charity and foundation leader who led and co-ordinated a huge rescue mission and single-handedly raised hundreds of millions of baht for those impacted by the floods in Thailand during the year was voted the most admired man in the country with over 60% support.

Further reading:

Thanathorn to faces protest charges brought by police and is warned against falling into a trap

Election Commission goes to court to have Future Forward disbanded for illegal funding over ฿200 in loans

Prime Minister not concerned at plans for a street protest as Thanathorn issues a warning

Court ruling on Thanathorn shares opens other MPs to scrutiny and possible electoral law legal action

Future Forward leader Thanathorn removed as MP by the Constitutional Court over prohibited media link