Silver lining for Prayut

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Surachart: triumphed in a by-election

Silver lining for Prayut

The humiliating defeat of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) in the January 30 by-election in Bangkok’s Constituency 9 may, critics say, confirm the fall in popularity of the PPRP and Prime Minister Prayut Chan. -o-cha.

However, some analysts did not see it that way. Rather, they believed that the dramatic loss of the PPRP testified to the strength of the support that remains intact for General Prayut.

The Pheu Thai party, the main opposition party, celebrated the triumph of its candidate, Surachart Thienthong, who won 28,015 votes, ahead of Karunpol Thiansuwan (19,290) of the Move Forward party (MFP), Atavit Suwannapakdee of the Kla party ( 18,505) and Saralrasmi Jenjaka of the PPRP (7,720).

In the 2019 general elections, all major parties garnered more votes than on January 30.

PPRP’s Sira Jenjaka, who is Ms Saralrasmi’s husband, won with 34,907 votes, with Mr Surachart blowing his neck with 32,115, followed by MFP’s Kritnucha Sansern (25,735).

The by-election was meant to fill the void left by Sira who was stripped of his MP status by the Constitutional Court last year. He was deemed ineligible to run in the 2019 elections due to a conviction for fraud handed down by the Pathumwan District Court in 1995 and an eight-month prison sentence.

A defeat for the PPRP emerged shortly after the results of the first polling stations arrived. Already they were worrying signs for Ms Saralrasmi as she was quickly relegated to third and eventually fourth place.

In the lead was Mr. Surachart, who was on track to win the constituency.

In addition, political observers were quick to analyze the numbers and offer a range of scenarios and perspectives, as well as policy implications for the PPRP, Pheu Thai and MFP.

Leading political scientists agreed that the outcome of the by-elections did not bode well for the PPRP or General Prayut, who some said was past its sell-by date and no longer a marketable brand in politics.

Others believed that General Prayut might still have political value although he would not “sell” if he continued to be there or if he was seen as linked to the PPRP, a party in current decline.

The party’s waning popularity worsened recently when the government was criticized for failing to curb the price spike that has driven up the price of some other meats. At the same time, soaring fuel prices have also pushed up the cost of commodities.

The PPRP faction has also suffered from a long-running infighting which came to a head when the party expelled 21 MPs from the group controlled by the party’s former general secretary, Captain Thamanat Prompow.

The group has been accused of threatening to cause trouble if the party refuses its demand for a radical internal overhaul.

Political scientists said the PPRP was in poor condition and may not be salvageable. This could well prove a handicap for General Prayut who could regain his popularity if he had a new party to fall back on.

But getting rid of the PPRP would be neither practical nor even legal. A sensible course for the leaders of the PPRP is for them to rebrand the party through internal restructuring and show everyone that they are in charge of the party and that they are able and willing to step up to the plate. job. The immediate priorities are to rein in soaring consumer prices and be seen to unite the party after the Thamanat faction leaves.

For a time, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who is also the leader of the PPRP, had sided with Capt Thamanat before his faction was purged.

Captain Thamanat could not ignore his allegedly failed attempt to oust General Prayut by plotting to vote against the prime minister in last year’s no-confidence debate.

Despite this alleged brazen act, he remained by General Prawit’s side, much to General Prayut’s chagrin.

Observers said many of General Prayut’s supporters were upset that General Prawit and Captain Thamanat were not treating the prime minister with the respect he deserved.

General Prayut and the PPRP, according to observers, were not closely linked to each other. His unresolved feud with Capt Thamanat even further deepened the rift between them. For this reason, some voters in District 9 could have boycotted the by-election to teach the PPRP a lesson.

The PPRP scrutinized the poll result and was alarmed to find that it had lost more than 20,000 votes compared to the 2019 general election. It figured that many supporters did not go to the polls this time -this.

Observers said there was some truth to the theory that many voters stayed away, which could mean that many people still supported General Prayut.

Observers noted that the PPRP itself did not seem determined to win in the constituency. No party stalwart had campaigned to rally support for Ms Saralrasmi.

On the other hand, Mr. Surachart has always maintained close contact with residents through his work for local government, which made his victory in the by-elections not really unexpected, according to observers.

A change of bedfellows?

The Ruam Thai Sang Chart (Uniting Thais to Build the Nation) party has been in existence for nearly a year, but did not attract any serious attention until earlier this week, observers said.

Seksakol: staunch ally of the Prime Minister

The party first surfaced in March last year when reports emerged that a ‘reserve party’ had been registered for the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) in case a snap election was called. and that something would go wrong in the PPRP.

At the time, a referendum bill was being considered in Parliament and there were fears that if it failed to clear the House, the government, which was sponsoring the bill, would have to resign or dissolve the House.

In such a scenario, a new election should have been called and the PPRP might have needed a sister party to help it increase its chances of winning as many seats as possible in the House.

This scenario did not materialize and the “spare party” faded away until Seksakol “Rambo Isan” Atthawong, a close aide to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, announced his defection on February 7. of the ruling PPRP in Ruam. Thai Blood painting.

Mr. Seksakol’s decision has drawn wide attention because the former central member of the Red Shirts movement has openly discussed the possibility that the ruling PPRP and General Prayut will eventually part ways.

Although General Prayut is not a member, the Prime Minister relies on the PPRP for his political support.

According to Seksakol, the Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party would be an exit strategy if the PPRP, led by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, chooses not to nominate Gen Prayut as its candidate for prime minister after the next general election.

General Prayut was the only choice of the PPRP in 2019.

Mr Seksakol, who has become one of General Prayut’s staunchest allies, stressed that he could not leave anything to chance following the alleged plot to overthrow General Prayut during the censure debate of the last year.

The party was registered in March last year and its name comes from a phrase coined by General Prayut himself, according to Mr Seksakol.

“It depends on General Prayut if he wants to use this party. But the Ruam Thai Sang Chart was created as an alternative if we have to break away from the PPRP,” Seksakol said.

Following this announcement, Ruam Thai Sang Chart was quickly dubbed Gen Prayut’s party.

According to observers, Ruam Thai Sang Chart is believed to become General Prayut’s political home. It is assumed that the Prime Minister threw his weight behind the party because he did not deny the suggestion that he had had enough of the PPRP and was ready to seek support elsewhere.

When asked to comment on Ruam Thai Sang Chart and other parties who have sworn to support him, the Prime Minister said: “It’s their business. I think there are a hundred around.”

Some political observers agree that Gen Prayut has more than one party in tow and it is possible that Ruam Thai Sang Chart is just a distraction.

They base their theory on the recent formation of the Thai Sang San (Creative Thailand) party, established last December.

Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, an adviser to the prime minister, and former national police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, are the key figures believed to move from the PPRP to Thai Sang San.

Pol Gen Chakthip has reportedly turned to the new party since his candidacy for governorship of Bangkok under the PPRP banner was reportedly blocked by the party’s former general secretary, Captain Thamanat Prompow.

Pol Gen Chakthip is reported to have recruited election candidates for the party and allegedly obtained potential candidates from several northeastern provinces.

With a growing rift in the PPRP and fragile relations between General Prayut and General Prawit, it is highly likely that General Prayut will leave the PPRP as soon as possible, according to a source close to the ruling party who declined to be appointed.

When it is time for General Prayut to bid farewell to the PPRP, the prime minister will likely opt for the Thai Sang San party, not the Ruam Thai Sang Chart, the source said.


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