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New Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin's Pheu Thai Party carried much of the fertile northeast in this year's election, but Move Forward's inroads raise the pressure to follow through on lofty economic promises. (Nikkei montage/Source photos by Ken Kobayashi and Getty Images)
Asia Insight

Thai PM Srettha faces pivotal test over pledges to party heartland

Pheu Thai promised northeasterners hefty handouts and better days; can it deliver?

FRANCESCA REGALADO, Nikkei staff writer | Thailand

KHON KAEN, Thailand -- In the run-up to May's election, Thailand's new Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin promised a dream scenario to voters in his Pheu Thai party's northeastern heartland: A landslide win would give the party the power to transform the country's most populous region, which is also its poorest.

But he warned of a less rosy future if Southeast Asia's second-largest economy ended up with a ragtag coalition in power -- exactly what has come to pass. Now, Srettha must find a way to balance the expectations he elevated in the campaign with the harsh realities of governing, or risk losing support in the first weeks of his administration and potentially costing Pheu Thai down the road.

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