By Bunkueanun “Francis” Paothong
Recently, Move Forward Party announced that Mr. Wiroj Lakhana-Addisorn was chosen to be their candidate for Governor of Bangkok. The 44-year old parliamentarian was considered by many to be the rising star of the party, as well as of Thai politics as of late.
However, the decision to put him in the governor’s race seemed to myself, as well as many, to be a major miscalculation. Especially since Mr. Wiroj has to go up against former Transport Minister, Mr. Chatchart Sittipunt, who announced his candidacy as an independent months earlier.
The party’s disappointing performances of its recent snap elections in Songkhla and Chumphon signaled the decline in momentum that the party has always been riding on.
In the previous general election, the party’s predecessor, Future Forward Party, have garnered around 10,347 votes in Chumphon’s constituency 1. Compared to the recent election, which saw the votes for Move Forward Party at 3,582 votes, going down by almost 70 percent.
Furthermore, the party saw its worst performance from the recently-concluded snap election for Songkhla’s constituency 6, which Move Forward’s candidate, Mr. Phongsathorn Suwannaraksa, only received 1,350 votes, when compared to Future Forward Party’s 11,966 votes in 2019.
Such decline in the party’s popularity stemmed from numbers of factors. Major ones are the lacking of groundwork for campaigning in the area, overemphasis on the talks of ideology rather than connecting with the locals, as well as the lack of primary elections within the party, which could have widened the search for a more suitable candidate also contributed to the many of Party’s lackluster candidates in recent snap elections.
It is also prudent to point out that the leader of the party, Mr. Pita Limjaroenrat, is not as enigmatic and popular as Future Forward Party’s former leader, Mr. Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, whose leadership and charisma was perceived by many to be better than that of Mr. Pita.
At any rate, the decision to prop Mr. Wiroj for the gubernatorial race in Bangkok will not achieve anything much for the party. Even worse, it might exacerbate an even worse electoral situation for the party.
While the election for its governor is not yet announced officially, the party has to tend to yet another snap election in Bangkok to fill in the seat formerly held by Sira Jenjaka, former Phalang Pracharat representative, whose disqualification by the Constitutional Court ousted him from Parliament.
The snap election is already tenuous as it is. Another blunder in the likes of Mr. Wiroj’s candidacy will likely weaken the position of the country’s only progressive party should the House of Representatives dissolves in the future.
The correct course of action that Move Forward Party could take is to re-evaluate their current electoral and political positions as of this moment, ranging from re-inventing their groundwork for potential elections, rectifying the Bangkok gubernatorial electoral blunder by endorsing Mr. Chatchart were many of possible solutions.
But in the end, questions remain whether it is truly wise to put up a candidate that has no fighting chance in the upcoming gubernatorial election? Is it truly wise to commit to another political blunder whilst fighting on many different electoral fronts?
And finally, is it truly wise that Move Forward Party would gamble with everything they have right now for the difficult future ahead of them?
Only Mr. Pita knows exactly what he would do, and I am afraid that whatever challenges he undertakes, it might not end well for him and the party.
About the author
Bunkueanun “Francis” Paothong is a former student protest leader, currently focusing on students’ rights. He stands accused of crimes against the Queen’s liberty.