Can a youth movement change Thailand's monarchy?

STORY: This was Chonthicha "Lookkate" Jangrew three years ago, seen by Reuters cameras confronting police during the unprecedented youth protests that rocked Thailand at the time, over the power of the country's military in politics and supremacy of the monarchy.

This is Lookkate now: 30 years old, facing a possible prison sentence for sedition and defaming the king, and one of over a dozen young activists from the movement who have become election candidates.

The three-fingered salute is a symbol of the 2020 protests derived from the Hunger Games movies. She's running for parliament with a political party called Move Forward.

One of the big topics on their platform: reducing the severity of the laws for insulting royalty.

"I truly believe that if you want change in this country to achieve a true democracy, both the street protests and legislative path need to move forward together with having a strong social movement and having independent bodies to scrutinize the work of the lawmakers."

"MPs are representatives of the people, we have to speak up about everything to protect their interest."

"I saw the determination of the Move Forward Party in trying to push for laws that protect, respect, and value human rights. I want to use my knowledge and skills in order to work with the party, including revoking any laws that takes away people's right of expression - or the law on torture and enforced disappearance."

The protests in 2020 started as opposition to the military's domination of politics after the coup that hit Thailand in 2014, and what protesters believe is an unhealthy power nexus with the monarchy that's justified military interventions against elected governments.

The military says it only intervenes in civilian politics when it has to, save the country from chaos, and it's ruled out involvement in the next election. The royal palace doesn't comment on politics.

Regardless, the protests broke taboos over discussion of the monarchy.

Progressive parties like Lookkate's aren't expected to win the upcoming election in May. And if she does win, she says the 28 criminal cases against her would end any time in parliament.

But she says she's hopeful that more young people in politics will usher in a fairer system. If mass protests happen again, she says, it will go much further than 2020.