Revolutionising Thai politics: Gen Z shakes up 2023 elections with progressive Move Forward Party

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published May 12, 2023 at 09:00 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

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On 14 May 2023, Thailand will hold a general election—its first after almost a decade. The vote will allow roughly 52 million Thai citizens to have a say in how a new 500-seat house of representatives will be populated. And, while this concept in and of itself is a complex and monumental one, we want to focus on one particular youth movement and political party who’re making plans to completely shake up the nation’s power structures. 

Move Forward is a gen Z political collective who are passionate about democracy, social justice, and progressive change. Having set up its campaign headquarters in a low-budget building in the Ban Bon area, Move Forward has already garnered a lot of international attention. Formed in 2018, the party is especially focused on addressing issues like income inequality, armed forces intervention and access to education.

Since 1932, Thailand has experienced a high degree of political instability, with several military interventions, 13 successful coups and 20 different constitutions.

Then, five years ago, a radical new party named Future Forward exploded onto the Thai political scene. Rooted in progressive politics that opposed Thailand’s dominant military and armed forces, Future Forward had a big impact. However, as the story often goes, the party was ultimately suppressed and its leaders removed from the Thai political space, as reported by the BBC.

Move Forward, being a byproduct of Future Forward, is trying to reinvigorate these kinds of political ideas. Rukchanok (Ice) Srinork, a young and energetic 28-years-old candidate for Move Forward, spoke with the BBC about the party and its hopes of ending Thailand’s long cycle of broken promises and military coups, a topic that has long been considered taboo in the country.

Srinork explained how despite once being a die-hard royalist, she now feels differently: “I think that I’m doing this partly out of feeling guilty that I was part of a movement that encouraged the coup, a crime against 70 million people. At that time, I agreed with it and thought it was the right answer for the country. But later I asked myself, how could that happen? How could this nation support a freaking coup?”

The young people involved in this movement are also making the most of any means they can to organise and spread their message. In the extreme heat, they’ve pedalled through the winding alleys of Bang Bon, determined to connect with every resident. Armed with cheap bicycles, they’ve been tirelessly spreading their message for weeks.

Unsurprisingly, the youth movement has been met with serious resistance from Thailand’s royalist establishment—specifically a network of military officers who, for the past few years, have massively cracked down on political protesters and banned gatherings of more than five people. 

Amnesty International previously reported in 2020 that police officers had entered school premises to question children and take photos of them, presumably in an effort to intimidate, harass and discourage them from taking part in further protests.

The youth movement in Thailand, and Move Forward in particular, is a powerful example of how young people can be agents of change in their societies. Their passion, creativity, and commitment to social justice is inspiring and has the potential to transform the political landscape in Thailand and beyond.

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