Abhisit quits Democrat helm after poll humiliation
Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has quit the helm of Thailand’s oldest party after the general election’s results showed the political camp perform well below par and could end up with a humiliating number of seats.
Nearly 50 per cent of votes have been counted and the Democrat Party was winning fewer than 50 seats. Abhisit had vowed to resign if the party won fewer than 100 seats in the election.
“I’d like to apologise to all party supporters who have been sharing our ideology,” a grim-faced Abhisit said at the party’s headquarters. “The results obviously don’t meet our target and the supporters’ expectation. I’m taking all responsibility for the outcome, so I’m resigning as party leader with immediate effect.”
Abhisit had been facing a big political dilemma. He has been highly critical of both incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who led one camp of the political divide, and the Pheu Thai Party, which led the other. This has led to him being provoked by two key figures on both sides of the national polarity. Suthep Thaugsuban of the Action Coalition for Thailand Party asked if the Democrat leader was siding with Thaksin Shinawatra because the latter’s latest remark seemed to suggest so. Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit said Abhisit’s remark against Prayut was nowhere near enough, and the Future Forward Party challenged him to openly declare war against the Palang Pracharat Party.
The Democrat leader had been playing a dangerous “alternative” card critics said only confused the party’s own electorate.
In other words, Abhisit had been trying to appeal to voters who don’t want to see a resurgence of the Shinawatras and don’t want to see Prayut remain in power, either. It turns out such a “market” was small. The Democrat Party, which used to dominate Bangkok in previous elections. As things stood around 10.20 pm, the party was winning just one seat in Bangkok.
According to Abhisit’s recent open letter, Palang Pracharat is a control freak, Pheu Thai a cheater, Future Forward a rebel who hates everything and everybody, and Democrat a dull but sincere boyfriend who has stuck with the woman he loves through thick and thin.
Abhisit’s latest attacks on Prayut strongly suggest that the former sees the latter and Palang Pracharat as a more immediate threat than Pheu Thai. The Democrat and Pheu Thai parties were wooing different markets in the previous elections, meaning Democrat candidates were facing no threats in the anti-Shinawatra market whatsoever.
That is not the case in this election. Palang Pracharat has gone all-out in its anti-Shinawatra campaign and, with Prayut as its prime ministerial nominee, demonstrating a capability to deliver what anti-Shinawatra voters want. All of a sudden, Abhisit has found himself playing second fiddle in a market he used to dominate. It eventually has resulted in his political downfall.