On Sunday, Pheu Thai Party leader Dr Cholnan Srikaew predicted that the result will lead to further instability in government while the Move Forward Party leader, Pita Limcharoenrut, highlighted its strong showing among armed forces personnel in Bangkok’s Constituency 9 as a sign that his party’s vision of a more professional army was resonating.
The political fortunes of the ruling Palang Pracharat Party appeared to be in disarray on Sunday when Pheu Thai Party candidate Surachart Thienthong resoundingly defeated its candidate in the by-election for the seat in Bangkok’s Constituency 9. The victory for the main opposition party comes just two weeks after the ruling party lost two by-elections in southern Thailand where it had campaigned hard to win. This defeat precipitated a major crisis within the party and the expulsion of 21 MPs and its controversial Secretary-general Thamanat Prompow. Sunday’s result was also particularly disturbing for the government as it saw a strong performance by the radical Move Forward Party whose leader Pita Limcharoenrut highlighted its growing support among the ranks of the armed forces for its vision of a more professional army.
The Pheu Thai party scored a significant victory in this Sunday’s by-election in the Chatuchak-Laksi district of Bangkok when it trounced the ruling Palang Pracharat Party in an election result that appears to bode ill for the fortunes of the current players in government.
Both the Pheu Thai Party and the other key opposition party, Move Forward, saw significant gains with the latter party’s vote reported as quite strong among military personnel.
A significant section of the electorate in Constituency 9 is linked to the armed forces which have a significant presence in the area.
Unofficial tallies confirm big win for the Pheu Thai Party in the Bangkok by-election, the ruling party polled less than 10% in a constituency it won in 2019
The poll result in Bangkok’s Constituency 9 was a landslide win for Pheu Thai Party candidate Surachart Thienthong according to unofficial tallies on Sunday evening when the result of the contest was declared beyond doubt by all observers.
The Palang Pracharat Party had fielded the wife of the outgoing MP, Mr Sira Jenjaka, Ms Sarinrat Jenjaka.
Mr Jenjaka held the seat from 2019 until last year but his wife returned an estimated tally of only 7,906 votes, an emphatic rejection by the electorate of the candidate, the government or the results of a low turnout, analysts are still trying to divine the real meaning of this result.
The ruling party’s vote share was approximately 9.5%.
Bad news for Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha
One thing is for certain, this is not good news for the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha.
Mr Surachart secured 29,416 votes compared to the wife of the man who won the seat in 2019, former MP Mr Sira who was ousted by the Constitutional Court in December last year after it found he was an unfit person.
Mr Sira, a high profile member of the Palang Pracharat Party, was a former House of Representatives chairman of the House Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee.
Mr Surachart of the Pheu Thai Party had held the seat previously winning it in the 2011 landslide General Election victory by Pheu Thai which catapulted former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra into power.
Pheu Thai was subsequently removed from office in the 2014 coup.
Move Forward came out of this election in a notably stronger position increasing its share of the vote
The poll result on Sunday also showed a remarkably good performance by the more radical Move Forward Party.
Its estimated tally was 20,361 votes.
The party’s leader, Bangkok MP Pita Limcharoenrut, congratulated Mr Surachart on his win and said he looked forward to working with him in parliament.
Mr Pita said his party had moved in the right direction and the election campaign in the constituency had shown many areas in which it needs to improve.
He promised a more determined campaign in the next General Election.
Mr Pita noted that his party’s share of the vote, although overall down from 2019, had increased from 20.5% to 24.5%.
Heavy support for Move Forward among the ranks of the armed forces revealed by party leader at 35%
He particularly drew attention to the vote for the Move Forward Party from soldiers in barracks pointing out that his party had secured 35% of this vote.
Mr Pita said that while his party nationwide had 17% support, research suggested that it is 26% among the ranks of the armed forces.
The party leader said this was because his party had a vision for a more modern armed forces and better treatment of young soldiers.
The message he took from the vote on Sunday was that his party’s policies in this area are resonating strongly within the ranks.
New MP paid tribute to all candidates, vowed to work hard to retain the seat in the next General Election
On Sunday evening, Mr Surachart gave a press conference after his stunning win was confirmed.
He thanked the leadership of the Pheu Thai Party for letting him stand again and the party’s Director of Elections in Constituency 9, Mr Sorawong Thienthong.
He paid compliments to all candidates who had taken part in Sunday’s contest and especially singled out Ms Sarinrat Jenjaka of the Palang Pracharat Party who ran a campaign based on her husband’s contribution to politics and service to the area since 2019.
Mr Surachart emphasised the efforts that went into campaigning by all parties involved in the contest in a campaign that demanded determined and committed personal effort.
The incoming MP also complimented the Move Forward Party and the new Kla Pay for their impressive showing in the election and their respective candidates Krunphol Tiansuwan and Atavit Suwannapakdee who scored a tally of 20,361 votes and 20,047 votes respectively.
‘I am determined to continue for one day, one month or one year if it means I have the opportunity to hold the position. I will make every day valuable. I would like to inform you that I will be the representative of all people. Both those who chose me and those who did not choose me, I will serve everyone equally, both inside parliament and outside the parliament,’ he vowed.
Problem for the Palang Pracharat Party in Bangkok even on a lower turnout by voters than seen in 2019
Although most seasoned political commentators have warned that the bye-election cannot be taken as a gauge for the country nationally, the result clearly shows a problem for the governing Palang Pracharat Party in Bangkok.
Some analysts have pointed to a relatively low turnout for the bye election’s dramatic turn of fortune against the government with 52.58% of eligible voters casting their vote.
They pointed to the fact that the Pheu Thai Party’s vote was lower by 3,000 while the ruling Palang Pracharat Party seemed to have lost approximately 27,000 votes.
All eyes will now be on the election for Governor of Bangkok in the middle of this year.
The result also comes after the Palang Pracharat Party lost two by-elections in Southern Thailand on January 16th for which the party had campaigned aggressively.
Democrat Party victories in the South seen as a vote for stability despite vote-buying claims by Ratchaburi MP
This disappointing outcome for the party later resulted in an internal upheaval that saw its Secretary-general, Thamanat Prompow, expelled along with 21 MPs.
Cryptic comment by Thamanat as political stability predicted to erode with the Pheu Thai Party buoyant
On Sunday, Mr Thamanat was cryptic in his response to the outcome.
He thanked the people who came out to vote and said that the ‘enemy of my enemy is a friend’.
As the result of the election on Sunday became clear, the leader of the Pheu Thai Party, Dr Cholnan Srikaew, was in the constituency.
The Nan MP hailed the victory as a sign that Thailand’s largest political party was gaining momentum and predicted increased instability within the government this year.
He said the Pheu Thai Party was aiming for a landslide in the next General Election.