Pheu Thai sees by-election win as victory for 'democracy camp'

Pheu Thai sees by-election win as victory for 'democracy camp'

Supporters of Pheu Thai candidate Surachart Thienthong at the Lak Si district office on Jan 6, when candidates registered for Sunday's by-election in Bangkok's constituency 9. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Supporters of Pheu Thai candidate Surachart Thienthong at the Lak Si district office on Jan 6, when candidates registered for Sunday's by-election in Bangkok's constituency 9. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

The opposition Pheu Thai Party's win in Sunday's by-election in Bangkok's constituency 9 shows what direction Thai politics is heading, and is seen as a victory of democracy over dictatorship, Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew said.

Dr Cholnan was reacting to the unofficial result, with the tally showing Pheu Thai candidate Surachart Thiengthong winning the seat with 29,416 votes, followed by Krunphol Tiansuwan of the Move Forward Party with 20,361, and Atavit Suwannapakdee of the Kla Party 20,047 votes.

Voter turnout was 52.68%, well below the 74.54% in the 2019 general election.

The outcome still needs to be confirmed by the Election Commission.

Dr Cholnan said the combined vote for the Pheu Thai and Move Forward candidates was over 60% of the turnout, much higher than the vote for parties supporting the government with Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as prime minister.

This was an indication the people wanted an end to the dictatorship's clinging to power, and that the government had failed in its handling of the country's administration.

Mr Surachart thanked everyone who voted for him in Chatuchak and Lak Si districts. He also thanked candidates of other parties for having participated in constructive politics.

Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat congratulated Mr Surachart and the Pheu Thai Party. He thanked constituents for their votes for Mr Krunpol, who came second.

"The poll result has confirmed the existence of the Move Forward Party and the people's trend to supporting a politician of Mr Krunpol's quality. In the 2019 election, we received about 20% of support from voters. This time we got about 24%. Thanks everyone for putting your trust in the party," Mr Pita said.

Mr Pita also said that Move Forward's policy to reform the armed forces had received a  positive response. The supporting vote from military barracks for the since-dissolved Future Forward Party in 2019 was 26%, and that went up to 35% in the weekend's by-election.

"This was an indication that military personnel agree with our policy to modernise the armed forces, to make soldiers more professional and to improve the livelihoods of low-ranking military personnel," he said. This was contrary to attempts by some people to create a picture of the Move Forward Party and the military being enemies.

"In fact, we are trying to give soldiers better welfare benefits and enable them to live with dignity," Mr Pita added.

Mr Krunpol said despite losing he would continue to work for the Chatuchak-Lak Si people and hoped he could win a seat at the next general election.

At Kla headquarters, party leader Korn Chatikavanij and Mr Atavit, the party candidate, held a press conference to concede defeat.

Mr Korn said the party was simply disappointed with the result, but had learned it was on the right track in introducing quality politics.

It was obvious the people were in need of change and wanted a leader who could truly offer solutions to their problems.

Mr Atavit said it was now clear that "new politics" were to the fore in Bangkok. The Kla Party had fared satisfactorily despite having just been established.

At the Palang Pracharath Party's election war room, candidate Saralrasmi Jenjaka conceded defeat. She had only 7,906 votes in the unofficial tally.

Accompanied by the former, disqualified MP for constituency 9, her husband Sira, Ms Saralsasmi said she accepted the people's decision. She and her campaign team had done their best.

Mr Sira said the party had to review lessons learned from Sunday's by-election. He said party leader Gen Prawit Wongsuwon had called to console him and the team.

Asked whether the by-election result was an indication that Gen Prayut was no longer sellable, Mr Sira said that decision rested with the people.

Sunday's by-election was called after Mr Sira was disqualified by the Constitutional Court in December. It ruled he was ineligible to contest the 2019 election due to a fraud conviction handed down by the Pathumwan District Court in 1995, with an eight-month jail sentence.

Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (46)

Kyrgios faces assault charge

Australian tennis ace Nick Kyrgios will face court after being charged with assault, his barrister told reporters on Tuesday.

20:16

B204bn gold card budget to cover Covid treatments, cannabis medicines

The National Health Security Office's (NHSO) board has approved a spending plan for the 2023 universal healthcare scheme, which covers Covid-19 treatments and new healthcare benefits.

19:35

Court drops forgery charges against Khunying Korkaew, two others

The Criminal Court has dismissed charges against Khunying Korkaew Boonyachinda and two associates for forgery and using forged documents to transfer shares worth 20 billion baht in 2018.

18:37