The Pheu Thai Party appears to have no real foes to fight with and is instead warring on its own MPs in local government elections for seats on provincial and tambon administrative organisations and municipal councils. The fight has not always been clean, one MP was physically assaulted last week in an attack he says was politically motivated.
And it's not helping the party. Quite the opposite. Although it rules supreme in parliament, the ruling government party suffered yet another local election loss when its candidates in the Udon Thani municipal polls on Sunday were roundly defeated.
Unofficial poll results showed Itthipol Triwattanasuwan of the Nakhon Mak Khaeng group won the mayoral contest with a total of 23,218 votes against Somphol Sripattiwong of the Nakhon Udon Thani group, who received 15,163 votes.
The Nakhon Mak Khaeng group also won all 24 council seats available in elections in four constituencies of Udon Thani.
It was reliably reported that red-shirt followers were split in these local elections, voting for both the Nakhon Mak Khaeng and Nakhon Udon Thani groups. This shows that Pheu Thai did not have complete control of the red-shirts in the province. The party strongly backed the Nakhon Udon Thani group.
The key factor contributing to the victory of the Nakhon Mak Khaeng group is that the group has dominated the municipality for several terms and has firmly established itself in the province, with a substantial following.
Last month, the Pheu Thai Party suffered two election setbacks in Pathum Thani province – the first was the loss of a parliamentary seat to a Democrat candidate in a by-election and the other for the position of head of the provincial administration organisation.
And a conflict is brewing in the ruling party over the coming election of the chair of the Udon Thani provincial administration organisation.
Pheu Thai MP for Udon Thani Pol Lt-Col Surathin Pimarnmekin has fielded his own daughter, Ms Kiratikarn, in the poll, while the Pheu Thai Party is supporting another candidate, Vichien Khaokham. The MP was earlier told to withdraw his daughter’s the candidacy, but he declined claiming that the party had not officially nominated anyone to contest the election.
Pol Lt-Col Surathin filed a complaint with Suthisarn police, alleging he was attacked by four unidentified men in Bangkok’s Din Daeng area on May 17. He said one of the four assailants, all dressed in black, asked him whether he was a red-shirt member in Udon Thani before the gang started beating him up. He suffered bruising to his face and he vowed to avenge the beating.
The MP believed the attack on him was politically motivated and possibly related to his decision to field his daughter in the contest for the PAO chair in Udon Thani.
The Pheu Thai party is also supporting Ms Ratthapat Yongchaiyudh, niece of former Pheu Thai chief adviser General Chavalit, in the contest for the PAO chair in Nakhon Phanom against Somchob Nitipote, a former PAO chairman who is backed by Pheu Thai MP Paichit Sriworakhan.
Jatuporn Prompan (L) and Weng Tojirakarn (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
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