The Move Forward Party (MFP) has set its sights firmly on forming a government in the next elections, newly-elected party leader Chaithawat Tulathon said, adding the party is moving to expand its supporter base and recruit more members to help achieve the goal.
In an interview with the Bangkok Post, Mr Chaithawat, who served as the party's secretary-general before assuming his new role, said he wasn't afraid of the public's high expectations.
"I have to rise to the challenge and work harder to answer the calls of people in society," Mr Chaithawat said.
He played down claims that he would be nominated as MFP's prime ministerial candidate in the next elections, saying there are other party members who are more suited to the role.
As the party's new party leader, Mr Chaithawat said he has to ensure that all party MPs and members have the same understanding of the party's strategies and goals.
As the main opposition party, the MFP will assume a proactive role in keeping the government in check, in addition to pushing for key legislative bills and reform agendas in parliament.
"As a proactive opposition party, the MFP's main goal is not about trying to bring the government down.
"[Our priority is] to prepare to become the new government after the next election. In the meantime, we will continue to push the party's key agendas," Mr Chaithawat said.
He said the party is moving towards becoming an even more democratic political institution, with plans to allow its members and members of the public to participate in its internal decision-making processes, to expand the party's membership.
Expanding support base
"We want to have 100,000 members by the end of this year, or early next year. That said, we are not just focusing on numbers, we are also improving our recruitment procedures," he said.
Party committees will be set up at the district level, which will serve as the main mechanisms to screen candidates to field in local and national elections.
All committee members will be elected, Mr Chaithawat said, adding the party aims to set up 400 district-level committees by early next year.
In addition to expanding its support base, the party also needs to maintain its current support bases in constituencies which it won in the May 14 election.
"We have to win back the constituencies we lost in the election," he said.
Mr Chaithawat said that as part of its commitment to decentralisation, the party will field candidates in all elections.
"We are pushing for decentralisation by focussing on local politics. Party members in local areas will be given a more participatory role in the party.
"This will be an opportunity for the party to recruit capable people, which will help strengthen the party from the grassroots level," Mr Chaithawat.
"The MFP has to work harder to show that its policies can be put into practice."
Gunning for the next win
Mr Chaithawat said that ultimately, all of the party's efforts are oriented towards achieving its goal of forming a government and pushing the reforms it had promised.
"We are confident that we can achieve it," he said.
"From now on, we have to work on developing our personnel and building our strengths. We have to formulate policies which are easy to understand, with more practical details.
"We will not offer pipe dreams. Our goals will be realistic and practical. In the next elections, we expect to win at least 200 House seats," Mr Chaithawat said.
The MFP won the most votes, 14.4 million in total, in the May 14 election, winning 151 seats in the House.
However, it ended up in the opposition bloc, as it was the runner-up, Pheu Thai, which managed to secure enough support to form a coalition government.
Asked to comment whether the Pheu Thai-led coalition government will be able to complete its four-year term, Mr Chaithawat said he believe it will be tough for the government to do so.
He said he also instructed MFP members to get themselves ready for a change of government within two years.
"We must prepare to form a government within two years. I believe it is likely that this government will not serve out its term," he said.
With MFP's rivals working hard to thwart the party at every turn, the party must work hard to respond to any situation, he said.
"Today, more people are calling for change, which corresponds to what the MFP espouses. If we can respond to the people, we cannot be defeated. But we must also constantly improve ourselves to achieve this," he said.
Mr Chaithawat reiterated the party's stance, that a new constitution must be drawn up, and the new charter must be put together by a drafting assembly whose members are elected.
The MFP will also push for a referendum on the drafting of a new constitution, he said.
He said the party will not join a government panel to study a referendum on amending the constitution, unless the government agrees with MFP's principles.
In 2021, the Constitutional Court ruled the public must approve any attempt to amend the constitution.
If the move wins the public's approval, another must be held on the content itself.