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Thai youth party fails to make gains in local poll

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The political successor of a banned party in Thailand that had strong support from young Thais failed to make inroads in weekend provincial elections that were held after months of youth-led protests.

FILE PHOTO: Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha wipes his face during a family photo session with new cabinet ministers at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand August 13, 2020./File Photo

The ballot was the first since a general election last year and the first provincial vote since Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha first took power in a 2014 coup.

Unofficial results from the 76 provinces showed the Progressive Movement failed to win in any of the 42 provinces where it had contested.

“We apologise for not being able to win any posts for provincial heads,” said the movement’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, who was banned along with his Future Forward party after emerging as Prayuth’s most vocal challenger.

That ban helped to prompt youth-led protests this year that have demanded Prayuth’s removal as well as reforms to the monarchy of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

In a Facebook post, Warong Dechgitvigrom of royalist group Thai Phakdee said the provincial election’s rejection of the progressive Movement showed the lack of support for groups challenging the monarchy.

Thanathorn nevertheless said the party’s overall share of the vote had been similar to at the 2019 election.

Candidates linked to the Pheu Thai Party linked to populist former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra held onto some strongholds in the northeast and the north, but the party said it was hard to tell whether it had gained or lost ground overall.

Several candidates who had made clear their loyalty to Prayuth were among those elected, but many of the winners were politicians with strong local power bases without any obvious loyalty to national movements.

Provincial administrations are responsible for the provision of local services and development plans and run their own budgets.

Writing by Matthew Tostevin; editing by Barbara Lewis

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