Survey of the Thai-language press: The by-elections – 2005

Survey of the Thai-language press: The by-elections - November 1, 2005
Translated and summarized from the Thai-language press

After the by-election in four areas and knowing the official vote, the opposition parties are happy that opposition MPs now reach 125. This means they will be able to call no-confidence debates on ministers concerning corruption issues. Meanwhile Thaksin Shinawatra said during his mobile cabinet meeting at Nakornsawan Province that Nakornsawan is the province that trusts TRT and select all TRT MPs so this province will get privileges to help specifically. Provinces that trust TRT less will be helped later in a queue. He said this frankly and revealed to the media what he thought.

Thaksin surveyed at Nakornsawan Province and repeated to take care provinces which elect Thai Rak Thai first and specially. TRT jeered the opposition party that even though they received 125 votes, it will have no effects on politics.

The lesson of Sunday's by-election: Thai Rak Thai, government power, and capital defeat the public opinion. The result of the election on Sunday showed that each party got one area MP. For the Democrat Party, Mr. Hochalee Marem, the MP of area 2 won without competition and passed the 20% of the MP criteria points. For Chatthai, Mr. Thiraphan Wirayuthwattana got 50,299 more than Mr. Prasaeng Mongkonsiri of TRT with almost 10,000 points. For the Mahachon Party, Mr. Siriwat Kajornprasart, area 4 of Pichit won over the TRT MP by 17,000 points. And for TRT, Mr. Payap Punket, won Chatthai in Singburi by only 753 points. The conclusion is that TRT lost 2 MP seats in 3 areas. This is the defeat that the leaders of party could not believe and might not accept. This because TRT is the government party that has government power and capital in hand and the PM and the leader of party visited the area personally in the last two weeks before the election. His interview show his confidence to win absolutely because of the party poll survey before and after the election.

[Note: The three races that were contested appear to have been hard-fought and the loses for the government seem to have major consequences. However, the way each party won one seat is suspiciously like the divvying up and taking turns that often happens in Thai politics--both in terms of winning seats and taking turns holding seats. Taking this a step further, if TRT did 'allow' or accept that the opposition have 125 seats for some reason, it would indicate confidence and inside deal-making. An indicator of possible truth of this theory would be in how far-reaching the eventual impeachment debates are--if indeed it would be possible to coordinate one since it would require every opposition MP to vote for it.]

Academics point out TRT was defeated because the government cannot plug corruption news which not only impacts people in the city, but also in the rural areas. This also shows the efficiency of news, newspapers, radio and even TV, that the government cannot suppress. They repeated clearly that populism is not longer a potent mantra. Meanwhile the law professor of Thammasat University jeered that Thaksin is arrogant and made his own defeat and does not understand democracy. Academics believed people voted the way they did because they want to investigate the House of Representatives.

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