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Progressive Movement’s senate bid: Triumph or tragedy?

Photo courtesy of The Nation

In a last-ditch effort to reshape Thailand’s political landscape, the Progressive Movement’s campaign to secure one-third of Senate seats and amend the junta-drafted 2017 Constitution is faltering as the election reaches its climax.

Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit kicked off the campaign in April with a bold goal: securing 70 People’s Senators in the 200-member upper house. However, the initial district-level election round was a letdown, with fewer than 50,000 applicants—far below expectations.

Even in Bangkok, the stronghold of their parliamentary ally the Move Forward Party (MFP), only 2,439 registered. Buriram led with 2,674 applicants, followed by Bangkok, Chiang Mai (1,902), and Sisaket (1,785).

From these 23,645 district-level candidates, 3,000 were chosen for the national-level poll. Next Wednesday, June 26, these 3,000 will vote to elect 200 senators and 100 reserves. Despite the overall gloom, MFP supporters found hope when prominent pro-democracy figures from Bangkok advanced to the national level, including former National Human Rights Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit among 18 of the 40 final candidates from the capital.

However, the campaign’s impact outside Bangkok is minimal. A review of the senatorial candidates from the provinces shows that about 80% are relatively unknown and lack political experience, contrasting sharply with the capital’s pro-democracy surge. Nevertheless, some notable political figures have emerged, such as former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and ex-Deputy PM Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, with ties to the ruling Pheu Thai Party.

The Bhumjaithai Party, a Pheu Thai coalition partner, also boasts several allies among upcountry candidates. These include Veerasak Vichitsangsri, a former governor with close ties to Bhumjaithai’s leadership, and Mongkol Surasatja, connected to party patriarch Newin Chidchob.

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Independents on the list feature controversial figures like Premsak Piayura, previously jailed for a scandalous incident involving a reporter, and former senator Asadang Saengkan, reported The Nation.

In related news, the provincial senator election at the weekend saw 3,000 candidates advance to the national stage but not without some unexpected snubs.

The Election Commission (EC) office confirmed the results of the provincial senator election on Sunday, June 16, revealing that 3,000 hopefuls will move forward to the national level. Among these successful candidates are 2,164 men and 836 women. However, 497 registered candidates did not report for the selection process, out of 23,561 applicants.

Bangkok NewsPolitics NewsThailand News

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