KHON KAEN – Pheu Thai will win 80 of Isaan’s 126 constituency MP seats in the upcoming election, Northeastern Red Shirt leaders projected this past Sunday. Approximately 150 UDD provincial and district level leaders met at Khon Kaen University’s Mo Din Daeng Hotel to share their election forecasts and formulate their campaign strategies.
Khon Kaen’s UDD president Veeravasak Sanglang assured reporters that the figures were “80% accurate” even though their projections were largely speculative and not based on any official poll data. “These people are the leaders of their districts and provinces,” Mr. Veeravasak said of the assembled representatives, “so they know the problems and issues in their [voting districts].”
The day’s proceedings were not without controversy. As early morning provincial caucuses gave way to short presentations of each province’s results, the meeting’s atmosphere grew contentious at times. While Kalasin and Nong Bua Lamphu’s delegations were able to thump their chests and draw applause for their provinces’ expected shutouts, Nakhon Ratchasima’s dismal predictions were met with jeers and early exits to lunch. That Pheu Thai should only win one of a possible 15 seats in the region’s largest province was felt by many to be an indication of poor organizing on the part of Khorat’s Red leader, Ms. Parda.
A recent Khon Kaen University poll (analysis here and here), though only designed to predict party-list results, corroborates this skepticism. 41.3% of intended Khorat voters said they’d be voting for Pheu Thai – a figure which only the most spectacularly effective gerrymandering could account for should Ms. Parda be correct. Nevertheless, Ms. Parda was adamant, “The Ruam Chart Pattana Puea Pandin party is very strong,” she told reporters.
The Khon Kaen Red Shirt president agrees. “Last election, the competition wasn’t this strong,” Mr. Veeravasak said. “This election, the opposite parties are trying to buy support… we need a stronger strategy to win this election.”
Still, Mr. Veeravasak’s proposed strategies appear to be just good old-fashioned grassroots campaigning. “Pheu Thai candidates have to go into these areas and build close connections with people and at the same time, Red Shirts will have to build strong connections in these communities to support the candidates,” he said.
With just under six weeks until the July 3 election, Pheu Thai and the UDD are fighting for every seat possible, especially in their strongholds.