Thanathorn mulls youth-oriented challenge to establishment

Thanathorn mulls youth-oriented challenge to establishment

A new political party catering to younger voters may be in the pipeline, with its prospective founders promising a radical departure from the old political establishment.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the 39-year-old executive vice-president of partsmaker Thai Summit Group, said he would wait until the latter half of this month before deciding whether to register with the Election Commission (EC).

social activist: Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit

Political groups started registering their parties and their party names with the EC on Friday, the first day of applications which will run until the end of the month.

Mr Thanathorn, known for his social activism, said the political situation was very fluid, but he thought it was time to "reclaim" the future after the period of military governance since the coup of 2014.

He said he believed that conflicts have held the country back from realising its full potential and, to reverse this situation, a party with a fresh breed of politicians who can offer an innovative approach must be established to represent young people.

"If I go ahead with setting up the party, it will not be an ad hoc one. I would not settle for anything less than changing the face the country, I won't do it," Mr Thanathorn said.

He added that he fears the next generation of voters, who he is targeting with his proposed party, have already become resigned to the status quo, but asserted that change is possible.

Mr Thanathorn said the question before him was whether any of the 42 groups which have so far registered as political parties could offer the country a brighter future.

However, the executive admitted that running a party would involve a great deal of work, but that was a sacrifice he would be prepared to make.

Any party he launched would belong to the people and its members, and would not act as anyone's proxy, he said. "It would not be a party that belongs to me or Piyabutr Saengkanokkul," added Mr Thanathorn, referring his mooted co-founder, a 38-year-old law expert at Thammasat University and noted member of the Nitirat group whose members include progressive law specialists.

Mr Thanathorn urged people not to judge him by his surname. He is a nephew of former transport minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit, a former member of the defunct Thai Rak Thai Party, which became the People's Power Party before subsequently joining Pheu Thaiy.

His party, he said, if established, would afford its young members a voice at all levels of its organisation, and would operate democratically in its decision making, unlike the old parties.

It would also maintain forward momentum, even if it was in opposition, and would constantly engage its members using forums and social media to make sure every voice would be heard, he stressed.

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