#Chitpas1700 : Netizens Squint at Democrat’s Unlikely Victory

Left, Chitpas “Tant” Kridakon leads a street protest in 2014 (Image: Forest Goose / Pantip.). Right, Chitpas “Tant” Kridakon on May 29, 2019, at the Election Commission.

BANGKOK — Thai netizens are venting their incredulity on the internet Wednesday at politicians who gained party-list MPs seats from a recent by-election in Chiang Mai despite earning as little as 1,738 votes.

According to the results of a by-election in Chiang Mai’s Constituency 8 announced on Monday, Future Forward Party’s Srinual Boonlue took out the constituency seat by dominating the popular vote. But the Election Commission’s formula for calculating party-list seats means that members of parties who received far fewer votes will also receive seats – a disconnect that has drawn the ire of citizens online.

Chitpas “Tant” Kridakon from the Democrat Party and the pro-junta Phalang Pracharath’s Watanya “Madame Dear” Wongopasi will receive one party-list seat each. Compared to the 75,891 votes received by Future Forward’s Srinual in the by-election, Wantanya received 27,861 votes while Chitpas received a mere 1,738 votes.

Since the release of the results, #Tant1700 has been trending on Twitter. When asked by a reporter today about the criticism on social media, Chitpas said she was unaware of it as she was busy with meetings.

“I’m happy and I thank every vote for the Democrat Party. I will return everyone’s votes by working in parliament,” Chitpas said in the morning, after arriving at the Election Commission to receive her party-list seat certificate.

Chitpas “Tant” Kridakon
Watanya “Madame Dear” Wongopasi
Srinual Boonlue

The Election Commission said it took total votes received by the Democrat Party from all constituencies into consideration, and not just the ballots on Sunday by-election, when it awarded a seat to Chitpas.

Chitpas was a leader of anti-government street protests that paralyzed Bangkok in November 2013 to May 2014, before the military staged a coup on May 22, 2014. Formerly of the Bhirombhakdi clan which owns Singha beer, Chitpas left the family and changed her surname when she entered politics in 2013.

The socialite told AFP in December 2013 that she believes Thai people lack “true understanding of democracy … especially in the rural areas.” Her comments sparked condemnation from supporters of the then Yingluck Shinawatra government, who consisted mostly of urban and rural poor.

Twitter on Fire

Other hashtags mocking Phalang Pracharath party members who have gained seats in parliament are also trending.

#ArmsDealerParina refers to Ratchaburi representative Parina Kraikup, who in 2014 was charged with gunrunning – an allegation she denied. Parina fired shots at her rivals on Tuesday by posting a video attacking Future Forward party spokeswoman Pannika Wanich.

#Rama7Tay refers to Thai Civilized Party’s Mongkolkit “Tay” Suksintharanont, who during election season boasted of spending years of his youth as a gangster around Rama VII Bridge. Mongkolkit was also mocked online after he approached Pheu Thai Party’s Wan Yuubamrung for a handshake on Friday, only to be rejected on camera.

And then there’s #DearMediaWife, which refers to Phalang Pracharath MP Watanya’s media mogul husband Chai Bunnag, the owner of Nation Group.

“#Rama7Tay, #Tant1700, #DearMediaWife, #ArmsDealerParina have you seen this damn team? I feel sorry for the country,” tweets @xnicsx.

In other election-related news, some members of the Democrat Party have declared their opposition to a coalition with Phalang Pracharath.

Parit Wacharasindhu, nephew of former PM and resigned party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, wrote on Facebook Tuesday that his party should be an “independent opposition” instead of supporting Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha’s another term in office.

On the same day, former Democrat MP Watchara Petchthong staged a protest at his party’s headquarters urging the party not to join a pro-junta coalition.

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