Future Forward Tops Chiang Mai Byelection

A protest in support of Future Forward Party in Chiang Mai on May 26, 2019.

CHIANG MAI — The Future Forward Party emerged as the winner in a Chiang Mai byelection, according to preliminary returns released on Monday.

With 75,891 votes, Srinual Boonlue easily secured another constituency seat for her party, bringing the total number of Future Forward MPs to 81. The byelection in the province’s Constituency 8 was held because the original winning candidate from Pheu Thai Party was disqualified for allegedly violating election laws.

The Democrats and the pro-junta Phalang Pracharath parties are also slated to receive one party-list seat each based on the votes they received from the Sunday poll, potentially sending Democrat rising star Chitpas Kridakon and Phalang Pracharath’s Watanya Wongopasi, a sports mogul, into parliament.

Thai Rak Tham Party, meanwhile, is set to lose one of its party-list MPs after failing to secure enough votes in Sunday’s byelection.

Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit said the seat changes could entail legal complications because Thai Rak Tham MPs participated in a vote for a new House Speaker during Saturday’s parliamentary session. He blamed the Election Commission’s seat allocation system for the confusion.

“This a consequence of [flawed] laws,” Thanathorn said. “And if there’s another case of disqualification, the number of MPs will change again. This is a flawed legal matter that shouldn’t have happened.”

It is unclear when the Election Commission will formally endorse the results.

Speaking at a party fundraising event last night, Future Forward deputy leader Piyabutr Saengkanokkul urged the regime-backed faction to cease lobbying in favor of another term as prime minister for junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha.

“Every one of you can see that a government which relies on a bare minority … will not survive,” Piyabutr said. “Even if he is the prime minister, he won’t be able to govern the country. Do they want to gamble the fate of our country?”