Top candidate for Thai PM gives birth two weeks before elections

Paetongtarn Shinawatra, leader of the opposition Pheu Thai Party, announces the birth of a son on Instagram.

A portrait of Paetongtarn Shinawatra. She is smiling.
Paetongtarn Shinawatra is hoping to lead her Pheu Thai Party to victory in the May 14 general election [File: Jack Taylor/AFP]

Paetongtarn Shinawatra, a leading candidate to become Thailand’s next prime minister, has given birth to a boy just two weeks before election day.

Paetongtarn, who leads the opposition Pheu Thai Party, announced the birth of Phrithasin Suksawat on Instagram with a photo from the hospital.

“Thanks for all the support,” the 36-year-old wrote to her more than half a million followers. “Wait for mum to recover first, then she will meet the press.”

The newborn is Paetongtarn’s second child. The photo showed him wrapped in a pale yellow blanket with his father’s arm around him.

Paetongtarn has been voters’ first or second choice for prime minister since campaigning began. She has been trading places in polls with Pita Limjaroenrat of the progressive Move Forward Party.

Recent surveys have given the opposition parties big leads heading into the May 14 general election, which could spell trouble for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who first rose to power as army chief after he ousted the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, Paetongtarn’s aunt.

Paetongtarn’s father and Yingluck’s brother, former telecommunications tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, was himself toppled as prime minister in a 2006 military coup. Both Thaksin and Yingluck live in self-imposed exile to avoid prison convictions their allies said were designed to prevent their political comebacks.

Prayuth, who became a civilian prime minister after the 2019 elections, trailed in fourth place in a mid-April poll for favourite prime ministerial candidate with 13.72 percent support.

However, Prayuth may have help from the 250-seat Senate, whose appointed members were approved by the military junta Prayuth led for five years.

The Senate also votes for prime minister, so it is possible that the leader of the biggest party in the 500-seat elected lower house could be denied the top job if the Senate votes with minority parties.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters