BGA Thailand Senior Adviser Thitinan Pongsudhirak wrote an update to clients on the Thai Constitutional Court’s verdict against the opposition Move Forward Party.


  • The Thai Constitutional Court’s landmark verdict on January 31 against the opposition Move Forward Party has raised the political temperature and will likely lead to more tension and confrontation between conservative and progressive forces in the medium term. On the charge of violating the constitution for “attempting to overthrow the democratic system with the king as head of state,” the nine-member bench unanimously found Move Forward guilty for its election campaign pledge to amend the lese-majeste law, known locally as Section 112 of the criminal code, which prohibits royal insults.

  • The ruling has far-reaching repercussions that could upend the biggest winner from the general election last May, setting the stage for potential unrest.


  • Although it was unsurprising, the charter court’s decision was still shocking when its full implications and consequences became clear. Prior to the general election last May, Move Forward’s well-publicized campaign agenda called for structural reforms of the military, monarchy, bureaucracy and the business conglomerates that were increasingly monopolizing Thailand’s economic pie. In response to its reform drive, the party won a stunning victory with 151 out of 500 seats in the lower house of Parliament, edging out the incumbent Pheu Thai Party’s 141 and trouncing the pro-military parties.
  • Move Forward now faces an ominous disbandment, similar to its precursor Future Forward Party, which was dissolved in February 2020. In the likely event it is axed again, a successor party may gather more voter support at the next poll, although the rebuilding process will take time. The Election Commission has the discretion over the time and duration of Move Forward’s dissolution charge; it could be later this year or drag on toward the next poll, when getting rid of the party would leave less time for it to regroup.


  • The Constitutional Court’s controversial verdict has fully securitized the monarchy and rendered it sacrosanct and untouchable in contradiction to voter demands for structural change and reform underpinning Move Forward’s and Pheu Thai’s results. Together, they captured two-thirds of the votes cast. In the medium-term, the conservative-royalist establishment appears to be on a collision course with growing demands for reform and progress.
  • Social unrest on the scale of 2020 or greater may be in the offing because Move Forward voters will feel disenfranchised, similar to when the party’s precursor Future Forward was disbanded in 2020, igniting street protests by young Thais throughout 2020. After being dispersed and persecuted in 2020-21, protesters retreated and waited for the May 2023 election. Move Forward’s base may bide its time until the next poll and opt in even greater numbers for a successor party with a similar reform agenda.

We will continue to keep you updated on developments in Thailand as they occur. If you have comments or questions, please contact BGA Senior Adviser Thitinan Pongsudhirak at and BGA Thailand Managing Director Teresa “Art” Siripant at

Best regards,

BGA Thailand Team