Future Forward Party poll loss 'points to wider trend'
The Future Forward Party's by-election defeat in Nakhon Pathom indicates a decline in the FFP's popularity and it may not be a one-off loss for the opposition party, according to an academic.
Jade Donavanik, former adviser to the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), said on Thursday the unofficial result of Wednesday's election in Constituency 5 may be a cause for concern for the FFP.
Based on unofficial results, FFP candidate Pairatchote Chantarakhachorn came second with 28,216 votes. He was standing in a seat vacated by his wife, Jumpita Chankachorn, who quit as an MP after winning in the March election with 34,164 votes.
Padermchai Sasomsap of the Chartthaipattana Party emerged the winner on Wednesday night with 37,675 votes, almost 10,000 votes more than the FFP candidate. He sprang a surprise because he came fourth in the previous election with 12,279 votes.
Democrat candidate Surachai Anuttato received 18,425 votes, compared with 18,970 votes in the general election.
Mr Jade said while the margin between Mr Padermchai and Mr Piratchote seemed insignificant, it cost the FFP and the opposition camp one seat. Following the loss, the FFP would be left with 80 House seats.
According to the academic, voters might have switched to Mr Padermchai because the FFP has yet to make an outstanding achievement as an opposition party. He added that Mr Padermchai, a veteran politician in Nakhon Pathom, might have underestimated the FFP's popularity in the March election and adjusted his campaign strategy this time round.
FFP leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit admitted defeat, but rejected speculation the poll result showed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was becoming more popular. The FFP was campaigning with the slogan "Choose FFP if you can't stand 'Uncle' '', a reference to Gen Prayut. The race was also seen by many political observers as a popularity test between the government and the opposition.
Mr Thanathorn also complained his party has been allocated fewer MPs than he thinks it is entitled to, considering the number of votes the party received in the elections.
Meanwhile, Pol Col Jarungvith Phumma, secretary-general of the Election Commission (EC), said the number of party-list seats will not be recalculated as a result of the by-election.
He said nationwide votes will be recalculated and party list seats redistributed only in a case where the previous election is scrapped due to irregularities. The by-election was held after FFP MP Jumpita stepped down as a result of injuries sustained in an auto accident.
The turn-out was 63.4%, and spoiled ballots accounted for 1.78%. The number of voters who did not vote for a candidates was 1,996, or 2.19%.