The leader of the Progressive Movement has held a press conference via Facebook Live saying that none of his candidates won election to Chief Executive of any Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO).
“Although there were many other factors, the most important factor which prevented us from winning the PAO position in any province at all was because we still did not work hard enough, and our work was still not effective enough,” said Thanathorn.
“I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the brothers and sisters who supported us in the election on 20 December.”
However, he said that 55 of his candidates won election as PAO Council members in 18 provinces. The Progressive Movement later updated that they won 2 more seats in Nan and Rayong. So, in total, they won 57 seats in 20 provinces.
PAOs have separate executive and legislative bodies responsible for local development plans, local annual budgets and regulations.
The provincial elections were held on Sunday (20 December) without any provision for early voting. They were the first provincial elections in 6 years after the military junta banned them after they came into power and it was the first time that young voters aged from 18 to 26 cast their vote.
It was also the first time that provincials election in 76 provinces all happened on the same day and the first time that provincial elections became a part of national politics as big political parties officially sent candidates to compete for power.
The PAOs are part of Thailand’s decentralization policy that has gradually evolved since the democratic revolution in 1932 from the earlier Provincial Councils.
Thanathorn’s plan for next year
In this election, Thanathorn fielded candidates in 42 provinces. Out of the total 15,730,841 votes, the Progressive Movement won 2,670,798 votes, or 17 percent.
He compared the provincial election results with the last general national election, and was heartened that his supporter base is actually growing. In 2019, the Future Forward Party won 16.2 percent out of the total 19,629,451 votes.
Thanathorn said that the Progressive Movement will continue to run for positions in Subdistrict Administrative Organization. And while waiting for the next election, they will push forward constitutional amendments, military reform and monarchy reform.
“Don’t lose hope or determination. Building Thailand needs a lot more time. We must move forward together. And lastly, thanks to everyone for helping by being the power for the Progressive Movement. I ask everyone to continue this journey together.”
In 2019, the majority of MPs of the dissolved Future Forward Party came from the party-list system. They won 30 seats from constituency elections and 57 from the party-list system.
However, after Constitutional Court verdicts and MP defections to government parties, the Move Forward party, the successor party, has only 53 seats in the opposition.
Thanathorn and his Progressive Movement may also have to face criminal charges for running for the provincial elections without being a political party.
The Election Commission, appointed by the military junta, has ruled to investigate the matter, warning that, if convicted, they could be punishable up to 3 years in jail, a 60,000 baht fine, and loss of voting rights for 5 years.
The PAOs’ term is four years until 2024 and Parliament’s term will expire in 2023.