Surprises, Snubs of Thailand’s 2019 Election

Anutin Charnvirakul of the Bhumjaithai Party on Monday.
Anutin Charnvirakul of the Bhumjaithai Party on Monday.

By Chayanit Itthipongmaetee and Asaree Thaitrakulpanich

Yesterday’s elections were a seat-gripping saga with twists and turns at every stage, resulting in surprising political gains for new and smaller parties, while some stalwarts were left red-faced after their political movements underperformed.

While results have not been counted 100 percent, they gave a solid idea of who were the winners and losers of Election Day. Here are the highlights of those who, against all odds, achieved remarkable results at the polls and those who aimed high but left a lot to desire.

The Snubs

  • The Democrat Party: Thailand’s oldest political party and longtime Bangkok stronghold, suffered a blinding defeat resulting in the resignation of party leader and former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. As the counting drew to a close Sunday night, Abhisit announced his resignation.
    Abhisit Vejjajiva resigns as Democrat Party leader Sunday night.

    Warong Dechgitvigrom, a Democrat who lost to Abhisit’s prime minister candidate bid, compared Abhisit’s leadership to a “ship navigating in the wrong direction.”

    The media and the online public have been describing the Democrats’ loss with the term, “Extinct Democrats.”

    Democrat Party supporters react after Abhisit’s resignation.
  • Veteran politician Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the Action Coalition for Thailand Party, lost in his hometown Surat Thani to the Democrat Party, who won all six districts in the southern province. Suthep was a leader of a movement that usher in the 2014 coup.
  • The People’s Reform Party, which pledged to support Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha’s prime minister bid and festooned the streets with controversial Buddhism-related campaign posters, won only a little over 40,000 votes nationwide and no seats in parliament.

Paiboon Nititawan’s election results are set to the tune of soft-rock band Mild’s ballad “Unlovable” in this meme. “I know…I mean nothing,” the lyrics read.

  • Phalang Pracharath turncoat Suphon “Rambo Isaan” Attawong lost in his own hometown of Korat. In 2014, the longtime Redshirt leader left the faction and pledged never to enter politics again. He eventually joined the pro-junta party in 2018, much to the chagrin of his former comrades. Suphon was defeated by a Bhumijaithai candidate by 22,601 votes.

Read: Embattled Election Commission Speaks to Media : Live Blog

The Surprises

  • The power of the gray vote pushed the pro-junta Phalang Pracharath ahead of other parties in the popular vote, despite anti-Prayuth sentiment being strong online among the younger population. But the party’s wide grab of seats may not come as a surprise to some, due to suspicion of widespread foul play.

    Kobsak Pootrakul holds a bouquet of hydrangeas, carnations and roses at the Phalang Pracharat headquarters on Monday.
    Kobsak Pootrakul holds a bouquet of hydrangeas, carnations and roses at the Phalang Pracharat headquarters on Monday.
  • Bhumjaithai Party did exceedingly well at the polls, making it to the Top Five and almost beating out the Democrats on the popular vote. Leader Anutin Charnvirakul had gone all-in on championing popular policies such as the legalization of weed and ride-hailing services.
  • Political newbies and first-time voter darlings Future Forward Party surprisingly received the third-most votes, behind political machine Pheu Thai and junta-backed Phalang Phracharath. During the past campaign months, the party has been supported with fangirling hashtags while being buffeted with legal complaints.

    Photo: Taopiphop Limjittrakorn / Facebook
    Photo: Taopiphop Limjittrakorn / Facebook
  • From a man who was arrested for brewing beer in his own home to a man of politics, Taopiphop Limjittrakorn of Future Forward Party won in his district of Khlong San. Even Taopiphop himself said he couldn’t believe it, “A political miracle has happened!” he tweeted. Taopiphop formerly ran a vaporwave cafe serving craft beer in Lat Phrao area which was closed last year.
  • By presenting realistic economic policies, Mingkwan Sangsuwan led his newly-formed New Economics Party to six seats in the house.

    Mingkwan Sangsuwan.
  • Single-issue Thai Forest Conservation Party won one seat, taken by Damrong Phidej. He’s promised to help decrease plastic use and increase green spaces.

Additional reporting Teeranai Charuvastra

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Embattled Election Commission Speaks to Media : Live Blog

Thai Election Day Ends With Unanswered Questions: Live Blog