CANDIDATES OF THREE MAJOR parties are vying in a by-election for MP in Laksi/Chatuchak constituency of Bangkok which might probably lead to sweeping victories in many other constituencies for a certain party in the next general election.
Though Palang Pracharath Party appears as yet undecided as to whether Saranrat Techajirasin, the spouse of deposed MP Sira Jenjaka whom the by-election is set to find a new MP to replace, will be finally picked to contest the by-election, chances are whoever is running under the ruling party’s tickets will likely have a fair edge over his or her rivals, according to political observers.
The advantages for the Palang Pracharath candidate have nothing to do with the party’s popularity among the Bangkokians, let alone that for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha named by Palang Pracharath Party as head of a post-election government two and a half years ago in addition to a personal hype, if any, which the candidate may conjure during the run-up to the by-election scheduled for January 30.
The windfall advantages for the Palang Pracharath candidate simply involve the fact that two opposition parties, namely Pheu Thai Party and Move Forward Party, are not only contesting against Palang Pracharath Party but against each other in the by-election where most constituents will likely be divided between a pro-military party and an anti-military camp as in the 2019 general election, they pointed out.
In the previous race to parliament, Sira, deprived of his MP status for having evidently made false statements in his application to run for MP in the 2019 election, won less than 2,800 votes over the Pheu Thai candidate, namely Surachart Tianthong, who is contesting the by-election under the same party’s tickets.
Nevertheless, Surachart is apparently having trouble given the likelihood of some of his votes swinging over to the Move Forward candidate, namely Karunpol Tiansuwan.
Remarkably, Surachart and Karunpol are sharing a base of popular support among the Laksi/Chatuchak constituents, thus automatically rendering an edge to their common archrival, the Palang Pracharath candidate.
Surachart may have a slight advantage over Karunpol, given the fact that he used to represent part of the constituency in the 2011 election whereas the Move Forward candidate may raise hype among adolescent voters not only regarding his own celebrity-turned-politician image but the party’s popularity as a whole.
As a matter of fact, Pheu Thai Party and the now-dissolved Future Forward Party, which has practically become Move Forward Party, stole each other’s votes only to get defeated by Palang Pracharath Party in many constituencies of Bangkok and those in the provinces in the 2019 election.
The Laksi/Chatuchak by-election will be the only electoral battlefield where the opposition bloc could possibly defeat the Palang Pracharath-led coalition government and such winning sentiment might probably prevail to some extent over the next general election, according to a partisan observer.
In the meantime, another two by-elections for MPs in Chumphon and Songkhla, scheduled for January 16, will only see a fierce rivalry between the candidates of fellow coalition partners, namely Palang Pracharath Party and Democrat Party whereas no candidates of the opposition camp could decisively contest.
Constituency 1 of Chumporn is seeing the Palang Pracharath candidate, namely Chavalit Ardharn, vying against the Democrat candidate, namely Issarapong Mark-ampai, while Constituency 6 of Songkhla is seeing the Palang Pracharath candidate, namely Anukul Prueksanusak, contesting against the Democrat rival, namely Supaporn Kamnerdpol.
The southern by-elections are finding new MPs to replace ex-MP Chumpol Julasai and ex-MP Thaworn Senniam, both of Democrat Party, who were deprived of their MP status on charges of involvement in the 2014 anti-vote street protests.
Though Palang Pracharath Party failed to get an MP of Chumphon in the previous election, Palang Pracharath MPs are currently representing four out of eight constituencies of Songkhla where the popularity of Democrat Party is obviously dwindling.
Top: Pheu Thai Party candidate Surachart Tianthong, right, and Move Forward Party candidate, Karunpol Tiansuwan, left. Photos: Sanook.com and Matichon
Home Page: Election graphic image published by Times of India