Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Progressive Movement, on Monday conceded defeat in the just-concluded nation-wide elections of provincial administration organizations (PAO) which dealt a crushing blow to the group’s ambition to make an inroad into local politics.
None of the candidates for PAO chairmanship it fielded in as many as 42 provinces was elected.
In a press statement issued via Facebook this evening, Thanathorn expressed disappointment at the defeat which he blamed on what he described as his group’s failure to work hard enough in the campaign.
“We were unable to win the chairmanship of a single provincial administration organization because we did not work hard or efficiently enough,” he said and apologized for the dismal performance of the group.
Progressive Movement candidates campaigned on the platform of decentralization and, in the words of Thanathorn, “shaking things up in local politics.”
But Thanathorn insisted today that the election results were not a total failure of the group as it won more than 2.6 million votes combined nation-wide which he said confirmed its popularity among the people.
He also pointed out that the group did win 55 seats in 18 provincial administration organizations, shorting clinching their chairmanship.
“Percentage wise, we did better with 17% of the votes. After more than a year, our popularity has not declined,” said Thanathorn.
Asked whether the group’s defeat stemmed from the group’s anti-monarchy position, Thanathorn did not answer directly, instead saying that, in Thai society, there are people who oppose reform of the monarchy and people who want it.
He said that, only through reform, can the relationship between the monarchy and the people be restored.
Staunch royalist Warong Dejgitvigrom commented in his Facebook post today that the Progressive Movement’s crushing defeat shows that the people oppose those who insult or defame the Monarchy.
It is about time for the anti-establishment protesters to go home and let the government perform its duty to drive the country forward, said Warong.
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“We have succeeded in making people understand the importance of local elections. We are determined to go forward to reform local politics,” he said.
Thanathorn, who vigorously hit the campaign trail on behalf of the group in the lead-up to the polls, had hoped to imitate the success of his now-defunct Future Forward Party by appealing to young voters. The party scored an impressive victory in the general elections in March last year, thanks largely to support from the new generation of voters.
Winners in most provinces yesterday are veterans or candidates with ties to local political clans and supported by major political parties.
Sunday’s PAO elections were the first local elections to be held after the military junta froze all elections following the military coup in 2014.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)