The ‘spectacular’ loss suffered by the ruling Palang Pracharath Party MP candidate Saralrasami Jenjaka in a Bangkok by-election on Sunday will leave many pondering what went wrong and its repercussions for days to come.
Saralrasmi was not just defeated, she came not second or even third, but fourth with only 7,906 unofficial votes late Sunday night, while her main rival and winner Pheu Thai MP candidate for Chatuchak-Lak Si constituency Surachart Thienthong received 29,416 votes.
It is a show demonstrating how out of touch the ruling party was, Saralrasmi’s husband and former MP of the very constituency Sira, who was disqualified for having been convicted of fraud prior to running for election, predicted that his wife will win 35,000 votes just hours before the counting began.
That is a disparity of over 20,000 votes. Looking closer, one sees two other MP candidates from new royalist political parties, while not part of the ruling coalition, vowing to generally support the government of Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha.
The two, namely Kla Party’s Atavit Suwannapakdee and Thai Pakdee Party’s Phanthep Chatnarat gained a combined total of over 26,000 votes. Atavit, a former Democrat Party MP, won 20,447 votes and came third.
He told this writer last week that his party, which is led by former Democrat Party deputy leader Korn Chatikavanij, while a royalist party, is also “pragmatic” and willing to work with voters of all stripes on issues of common interests. At fifth place is Phanthep from the new ultra-royalist Thai Pakdee party getting 5,987 votes.
Combine the three pro-establishment parties, then one has 33,040 votes – enough to emerge ahead of the winning Pheu Thai candidate if combined. This is still substantial, though it says a lot about how divided conservative parties have become.
On the other hand, when combining the votes from the two opposition parties, Pheu Thai and Move Forward, one has 49,777 votes. It is significantly more than that of the ruling party and conservative camp combined.
The results means there will be no incentive for Prayut to see both the general elections, and particularly the Bangkok gubernatorial elections, any time soon. The wind of political change is blowing at least in one constituency in Bangkok and probably more given the faltering economy under Prayut and political crisis suffered by the Palang Pracharath Party which purged twenty MPs earlier this month.
Under the current junta-sponsored charter, Prayut has the power to decide when the much-awaited and delayed Bangkok gubernatorial elections will take place, however. Speaking of fair play.