Breakaway red-shirt party 'happy' with poll results
February 08, 2014 00:00 By Pravit Rojapahruk The Nation
The new red-shirt party Palang Prachathipatai is satisfied with its result in the district-based parliamentary election - despite not winning a seat.
The party, formed late last year by red shirts disillusioned with the ruling Pheu Thai Party’s attempt to pass a blanket amnesty bill, ran on a platform of introducing a social welfare system in Thailand.
It also pledged to free all political prisoners including those detained under the lese majeste law.
“I felt it [the election] was really positive,” party adviser Jittra Kotchadej said.
“We’ve talked about a welfare state for a long time and now that we’re a political party, there are more people talking about it. When we go on a campaign, more people know us.”
The party’s name means Democratic Force Party.
It fielded 36 candidates in the election, mostly in the North and the Northeast, and also competed in the party-list system.
Of the eight seats where the Palang Prachathipatai ran and where final results are known, its candidates attracted a combined 93,200 votes.
The party’s candidate in Lamphun province received the most votes – more than 19,000.
Even in Bangkok, one of the little-known party’s candidates managed to get 2,000 votes.
Jittra said the party still hoped to get one party-list MP, given only about 100,000 votes were needed.
The party is more concerned about attracting 5,000 party members by May, as required by the election law, to avoid being dissolved – a tough task for a little-known entity.
Jittra said the party was keen to become a genuine people-based mass organisation not under the sway of big capitalists or elite politicians like others.
“We’re not a replacement party for the Pheu Thai Party,” Jittra said.
“Others like Red Sunday group leader Sombat Boon-ngamanong said most red shirts will still have to rely on the ruling Pheu Thai Party, however, as they have a real chance of forming government.
“I still hope the Pheu Thai Party will reform itself. If it doesn’t, more alternative parties will emerge.”
Sombat, meanwhile, said the Palang Prachathipatai had his support.