From ‘Street’ to ‘Parliament’: Why Thai NGOs and Activists Forming the Commoners’ Party and Running as the Future Forward Party’s Electoral Candidates

Main Article Content

Nattakant Akarapongpisak


Thai NGOs had been under heavy criticism throughout the previous decade. In recent years, many NGOs and activists decided to step into the electoral arena in which they once never imagined taking part. This article uses qualitative research to investigate the conditions influencing Thai NGOs and activists to form the Commoners' party. Also, it examines under what conditions NGOs and activists took part in the Future Forward party's candidates in the 2019 general election.This article shows that the NGOs and activists' decision to form the commoner's party came about from their interest in rearranging the social movements' relations to the Thai state and powerful institutions. One of the primary reasons for the NGOs and activists to form the party was to seek a new 'democratic' way to create political and social changes. Such will and attempt developed under specific circumstances, such as criticisms towards Thailand's 'conservative civil society' and inspiration from an ideology and tactics pursued by movements in Thailand and overseas. The decision of individual NGOs and activists to run under FFP originated from their attempt at the new 'dual' strategy: gaining seats in the legislative body and pursuing extra-parliamentary movements. Also, it arose from its aim to make changes in political and social structures and policies. These Ngos' and activists' moves were a consequence of an interplay of various factors, including the failure of social movements' usual strategy, the NGOs and activists' dissatisfaction towards politicians and existing political parties, the government's violation of civil and political rights, the challenging atmosphere toward existing political and social structures and institutions, and the recruitment of 'new faces' into political parties.



Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Akarapongpisak, N. . (2022). From ‘Street’ to ‘Parliament’: Why Thai NGOs and Activists Forming the Commoners’ Party and Running as the Future Forward Party’s Electoral Candidates. Journal of Social Sciences Naresuan University, 18(2), 73–106.
Research Paper


Angkunthatsaniyarat, P. (2017). Where should we head to?: NGOs and Thailand’s civil society at the crossroads. Retrieved December 17, 2019, fromเราจะไปทางไหนกัน-ngo [in Thai].

Baraniuk, C. (2016, December 7). The first pirate politician in power. BBC Future. Retrieved from

Bickerton, C. J., & Accetti, C.I. (2017). ‘Techno-populism’ as a new party family: The case of the five star movement and Podemos. Contemporary Italian Politics, 10(2), 132–150. doi: 10.1080/23248823.2018.1472919

Bull, B. (2013). Social movements and the ‘pink tide’ governments in Latin America: Transformation, inclusion and rejection. In K. Stokke & O. Tornquist (Eds.), Democratization in the global south: The importance of transformative politics (pp. 75-99). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Bunchai, K. (n.d.). The community land title deeds policy for social justice: From principles to practices. Retrieved December 17, 2019, from [in Thai].

Busscher, N., Vanclay, F., & Parra, C. (2019). Reflections on how state-civil society collaborations play out in the context of land grabbing in Argentina. Land, 8(8), 1-16. doi: 10.3390/land8080116

Chariamphan, P. (2012). Politics of community land title deeds policy making process (master’s thesis). Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University. [in Thai].

Chiangsaen, U. (2018). The civil society’s politics. Bangkok: Matichon Publishing. [in Thai].

Chuachang, M. (2018, October 8). The political party of ‘Tasitasa’ (commoners) stepping into a formal political arena: An interview with Lertsak

Kamkongsak. The Momentum. Retrieved from [in Thai].

Kuaha, T. (2019). The 2019 election: Pauline Ngarmpring-if everyone is equal, Thailand will move farther. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from [in Thai].

Holdo, M. (2019). Cooptation and non-cooptation: Elite strategies in response to social protest. Social Movement Studies, 18(4), 444-462. doi: 10.1080/14742837.2019.1577133

Hutter, S., Kriesi, H., & Lorenzini, J. (2018). Social movements in interactions with political parties. In D. Snow, S.A. Soule, H. Kriesi, & H. McCammon (Eds.), The Wiley Blackwell companion to social movements (pp. 322-337). Oxford: Wiley.

International IDEA. (2018). Collaboration between citizen movements and political parties. Stockholm: International IDEA.

Khiriwan, S. (2018, May 22). Talking with the representatives of three new parties - what are their views toward Thailand’s politics?. Matichon. Retrieved from [in Thai].

Kitschelt, H. (2004). Diversification and reconfiguration of party systems in postindustrial democracies. Bonn: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

Krastev, I. (2014). From politics to protest. Journal of Democracy, 25(4), 5-19.

Kruszewska, D. (2016). From the streets to the party lists: Challenges for movement parties. Perspectives on Europe, 46(1), 100-105.

Lekluanngam, B. (2018, April 3). Kornchanok announces the commoners party let politics run by people. The Isaan Record. Retrieved from [in Thai].

McAdam, D., & Tarrow, S. (2010). Ballots and barricades: On the reciprocal relationship between elections and social movements. Perspectives on Politics, 8(2), 529-542. doi: 10.1017/S1537592710001234

Meetaem, T. (2020, August 13). ‘Wading and lesson learned’ from commoners to youths-Kittichai Ngamchaipisit. The 101.World. Retrieved from [in Thai].

MJ, V. (2018). The ascent of conservative civil society in India. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from

Pant, S. B. (2017, July 7). Why grassroots activists should resist being ‘professionalized’ into an NGO. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Permanent Culture Now. (n.d.). Introduction to activism. Retrieved December 12, 2019, from

Phatharathanunth, S. (2006). Civil society and democratization: Social movements in Northeast Thailand. Copenhagen: NIAS Press.

Pitidol, T. (2016). Redefining democratic discourse in Thailand’s civil society. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 46(3), 520-537.

Pitidol, T. (2019, May 31). Various questions on civil society (2): A reflection on Thailand’s experience. The 101.World. Retrieved from [in Thai].

Prachatai. (2009, June 3). The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) forms the ‘new politics’ party advocating the ‘yellow’ and ‘green’ ways – Somsak Kosaisuk appointed the party’s interim leader. Prachatai. Retrieved from [in Thai].

Prachatai. (2010a, June 25). An open letter against hidden discourses and Thailand’s brutal reform process. Prachatai. Retrieved from [in Thai].

Prachatai. (2010b, August 7). Why ‘revisiting social movements in Thailand’?. Prachatai. Retrieved from [in Thai].

Prachatai. (2010c, September 18). Roundtable discussion: Revisiting social movements in Thailand. Prachatai. Retrieved from [in Thai].

Rakyutidham, A. (2011). Mainstreaming alternative development. Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, 30(2), 13-43. [in Thai].

Rakyutidham, A. (2021). ‘Political citizenship’ in the digital age: A case study the defendants accused under Article 112 of the criminal code. Journal of Social Sciences Naresuan University, 17(1), 115-149. doi: 10.14456/jssnu.2021.5 [in Thai].

Sapyen, C. (2013). A study of rural doctor movement in the policy process of health system policy: The movement of civil society and its contribution toward participatory democracy in Thailand (Doctoral dissertation). Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University. [in Thai].

Settawilai, P. (2018, January 18). From ‘Dao Din’ to the ‘New Isan movement’. Until this country belongs to the people. The101.World. Retrieved from [in Thai].

Stavrakakis, Y., Andreadis, I., & Katsambekis, G. (2016). A new populism index at work: Identifying populist candidates and parties in the contemporary Greek context. European Politics and Society, 18(4), 1–19. doi: 10.1080/23745118.2016.1261434

Supphawanthanakun, K. (2019, February 11). Lertsak Kamkongsak-[We] are ‘commoners’: From street to parliament. Prachatai. Retrieved from [in Thai].

ThaiPBS. (2016, August 21). Reading an article-Lertsak Kamkongsak: Thai NGOs and coup. ThaiPBS. Retrieved from [in Thai].

Vanden, H. E. (2012). The landless rural workers’ movement and their waning influence on Brazil’s workers’ party government. In G. Prevost, C. O. Campos, & H. E. Vanden (Eds.), Social movements and leftist governments in Latin America (pp. 34-48). New York: Zed Books.

von Bulow, M. (2018). The empowerment of conservative civil society in Brazil. Retrieved May, 26, 2021, from

Weerapaspong, P. (2020, October 6). David Graeber-The anarchist anthropologist who have faith in other kinds of possibilities. The101.World. Retrieved from [in Thai].

Wiriyaphanphongsa, S. (2014, January 28). It’s enough for the undemocratic violence. Bangkokbiznews. Retrieved from [in Thai].

Wongrattana, P., & Thawatthatri, P. (2019). The 2019 general election: Lertsak Kamkongsak–A commoner who wishes to lead the voice of ordinary people to the parliament. Retrieved June, 30, 2021, from [in Thai].

Zulianello, M. (2019). Anti-system parties: From parliamentary breakthrough to government. London and New York: Routledge.