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(March 26, 2019) Post-poll policy: Dynamic continuity - Kavi Chongkittavorn

 Speculation is rife about imminent changes in Thailand's diplomatic direction after five years of military-ruled guidance. Political pundits and campaigners ahead of the polls last week also sent out strong signals that they expect a new cabinet in Government House with new policies. One of the casualties would be Thai-Chinese ties, which have progressed and strengthened without waveringly over the past five years. However, the outcome of Sunday's election indicates that whichever parties form the next civilian government, there will be little effect on the country's foreign relations or the current Asean chair. Indeed, Thailand's foreign policy will become more dynamic with continuity.

As in previous elections, foreign policy issues have not been featured in political campaigns. It was very rarely that diplomatic issues of the day were brought up and used as a campaign promise. In the May 2011 election, the Phra Viharn/Preah Vihear Temple dispute between Thailand and Cambodia was picked up by the Kitsangkhom Party (Social Action Party), which pledged to take back the temple. As it turned out, voters paid no attention as they were more interested in local khao pla -- rice and fish -- economic conditions and other "pivotal" challenges such as education and the scope of government subsidies.