BANGKOK— Thailand’s leading prime ministerial candidate, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, gave birth on Monday to a baby boy two weeks before elections in which she hopes to return to power the populist movement her father and aunt led before army coups ousted them.
Paetongtarn, 36, announced the birth on her official Facebook and Instagram accounts with a photo of the newborn.
“Hi, my name is Prutthasin Sooksawas, nickname Thasin,” read the post. “Thanks for all the support. In a few days, wait for my mum to recover first, then I will meet the press.”
Paetongtarn, who goes by the nickname Ung Ing, has been first or second in polls for voters’ favourite prime ministerial candidate throughout the campaign for the May 14 election, trading places with Pita Limjaroenrat of the progressive opposition Move Forward Party.
The imminent arrival of Paetongtarn’s second child had not kept her from the campaign trail until very recently.
Her family’s name recognition and her party’s enduring popularity that has brought it a string of election victories could again bring it back to power.
Recent polls showing opposition parties with big leads could spell trouble for incumbent Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who first came to power in a 2014 coup that ousted an elected government that had been led by Paetongtarn’s aunt, Yingluck Shinawatra.
Paetongtarn’s father and Yingluck’s brother, former telecommunications tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra was himself toppled in a 2006 military coup. Both Thaksin and Yingluck live in self-imposed exile to avoid prison convictions their allies say were designed to prevent their political comebacks.
Prayuth, who became a civilian prime minister after 2019 elections, trailed in fourth place in a mid-April poll for favorite prime ministerial candidate with 13.72%.
However, Prayuth may have help from the 250-seat upper house 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.
—Reporting by Juarawee Kittisilpa; Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Robert Birsel