Bangkok, Thailand
People stand in voting booths as they vote in the general election at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand, May 14, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

Bangkok: The names leading the race to become Thai prime minister after Sunday's election range from a billionaire's daughter to a canny backroom operator known as the "Rolex general".

Here is a run-down of the main candidates:

Prayut Chan-o-Cha

Incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha is running for re-election with his newly formed conservative United Thai Nation Party.

One of the masterminds of Thailand's 2014 military coup, Prayut shed his uniform and became premier after the controversial 2019 election.

The 69-year-old is one of the kingdom's longest-serving prime ministers, but can only remain in the post until 2025, according to a constitutional court ruling.

Born into a military family in northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima province, Prayut rose from military college to become commander of the prestigious Queen's Guards in 1980.

In 2010 he was involved in the crackdown on Red Shirt protesters - mostly rural supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a 2006 coup - in which more than 90 people were killed.

He attempted something of an image rehabilitation in later years by releasing poems and songs, including in 2018 a Valentine's Day ballad "Diamond Heart".

He is married to a university professor and the couple have twin daughters.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra

The 36-year-old showed immense stamina hitting the campaign trail for the main opposition Pheu Thai party while heavily pregnant.

She gave birth to her second child less than two weeks before polling day.

Paetongtarn is the third child of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was booted out of office in the 2006 military coup and lives in self-exile abroad.

If successful she would be Thailand's youngest ever prime minister and the fourth member of her family to hold the job after her father, aunt and uncle.

A political newcomer, she studied hotel management in Britain and worked for the hospitality arm of her ultra-rich family's company until last year.

She married commercial pilot Pidok Sooksawas in 2019 with two glitzy receptions in the Thai capital and Hong Kong. The couple now have two children.

A connoisseur of designer fashion labels, the charismatic Paetongtarn shares her jet-setting lifestyle with half a million Instagram followers.

Prawit Wongsuwan

Palang Pracharath Party leader Prawit Wongsuwan is known for his love of luxury watches and skills as a quiet backroom political operator.

Born into a military family in the 1940s, he was a career soldier rising through the ranks to army chief from 2004 to 2005.

A consummate player behind the scenes, he was appointed to the National Legislative Assembly after the 2006 coup, then in 2008 he was defence minister under the establishment Democrat party.

Prawit went on to be one of the chief architects of the 2014 coup, allying himself closely with Prayut and serving as his deputy prime minister, until they fell out.

The "Rolex general" faced a firestorm of criticism in 2018 after being photographed with 25 luxury watches worth an estimated $1.2 million.

Unmarried and with no children, it will be his first time running for office.

Pita Limjaroenrat

A fresh-faced 42-year-old, the father-of-one is considered a political heartthrob in a sea of ageing politicians.

He was parachuted into the leadership in 2020 after a court dissolved Move Forward's predecessor Future Forward Party and banned founder and auto parts tycoon Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit from running for office for a decade.

Before being elected a lawmaker in 2019, Harvard-educated Pita was an entrepreneur.

Following his father's death, Pita returned home to run his family's heavily-in-debt business Agrifood, turning its fortunes around.

Pita, who went to high school in New Zealand, was voted one of CLEO Thailand's 50 Most Eligible Bachelors in 2008.

In 2012 he married Thai TV actress Chutima Teepanat, and they have a seven-year-old daughter. The marriage broke down in 2019.

His personal Instagram features him and his daughter wearing matching T-shirts, eating ice cream, and riding bicycles backwards.