Thaksin will also want to make use of his newfound freedom to ensure that Pheu Thai is fully behind his youngest daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra. She was made party chief last year, and thus in a position for the prime ministerial post sometime in the future.

He does not appear to be in a hurry to remove Mr Srettha, though this could quickly change if Mr Srettha fails to get the party’s signature election pledge – the digital wallet handout scheme – pushed through.

Thaksin’s release could revive speculation that the democratic parties could put in a more energetic attempt to sideline conservative parties, principally through a resurrected alliance between Pheu Thai and the MFP.

The pro-military senators, who played a central role in blocking the MFP from forming the government last year, will end their terms in May, and the next Senate will not be able to participate in a vote for a prime minister.

Pheu Thai and the MFP may be on different sides of the parliamentary aisle, but a secret meeting between MFP-aligned figure Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Thaksin in Hong Kong last year could yet bear fruit.


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