Local poll shows that support on the ground for the country’s leading party has grown since the May 14th General Election driven by public anger at Pheu Thai’s perceived betrayal of it after it switched allegiance in August to parties associated with the old government.
Thailand’s largest party in parliament gained another seat in the House of Representatives on Sunday when it polled at nearly 57% to win a by-election in Rayong outperforming its result in May by nearly 40%. After the result, the party leader Mr Pita Limjaroenrat said it was well placed to win the next General Election in a landslide.
On Sunday, the Election Commission in Rayong announced the results of the by-election which took place after the removal of Move Forward’s Nakhonchai Khunnarong after it was revealed that he had previously been convicted of theft charges before the May 14th General Election which is prohibited by Thai electoral law and the constitution.
The election was the first test of the strength of popular support for the Move Forward Party which is thought to be strong in the country after the party was thwarted from taking its place at the helm of the new government in early August.
The Pheu Thai Party, now the ruling party, switched allegiance at that time to parties associated with the previous government following strong opposition from the unelected Senate to the nomination of Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat as Prime Minister on July 12th.
Move Forward’s new candidate Phongsathorn Sornphetnarin takes 57% of the vote on a 56% turnout for District 3 in Rayong beating May’s tally
On Sunday, the Move Forward Party candidate in the by-election in Rayong, the coastal province to the east of Bangkok, Mr Phongsathorn Sornphetnarin romped home to victory taking 57% of the vote.
Mr Phongsathorn received 39,296 votes compared to Mr Banyat Jetnajan of the Democrat Party while the Labour Sang Chai Party’s Ruengchai Sombatphuthorn only received 881 of the votes counted in the election.
The turnout on Sunday was 56% which is quite a respectable figure for a by-election coming so shortly after a national poll with 122,582 voters eligible to cast votes at 207 polling stations.
The contest was for a seat in the House of Representatives representing District 3 of Rayong Province.
Powerful performance in Rayong on Sunday followed by a strong showing in parliament on Monday by Deputy leader Sirikanya Tansakul on the policy debate
The Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat was enthusiastic about the performance given that the Move Forward Party leader has campaigned heavily in Rayong over the previous weeks as it took up its seats in Parliament in opposition to the new government which, on Monday, presented its policy statement which was scathingly criticised by Ms Sirikanya Tansakul, the party’s deputy leader who was tipped after May 14th poll and an agreement with Pheu Thai and 6 other parties signed on the 22nd May, to be the Finance Minister in a Move Forward Pheu Thai coalition government.
That proposed government fell apart in August when Pheu Thai unceremoniously dumped the Move Forward Party in a move which is believed to have decimated its electoral support nationally.
On Monday, Ms Sirikanya described the policy statement given in Parliament by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin as more akin to a prayer and highlighted the lack of clear goals and time frames in this speech.
Pita sets sights on the next General Election
On Sunday, responding to the victory in Rayong, Mr Pita noted that Mr Phongsathorn had polled over 11,000 more votes than Mr Nakhonchai Khunnarong had in the May 14th General Election poll.
He said that it pointed to growing support not only in Rayong but nationwide for the Move Forward Party which he said was now well-placed to overwhelmingly win the next General Election.
‘We will build on this momentum. It will strengthen our resolve to campaign for votes to win the next General Election,’ he promised.