With Thailand’s parliamentary horse-trading picking up momentum, and with increasing talk of an improbable Democrat government, the results of the January by-elections are looking more and more important.

Thanks to master number cruncher Chris Baker, here are some interesting figures on results from December 2007 in the by-election constituencies.

Some words of explanation. The “members” column lists the number of MPs elected from the constituency in December 2007. The “margin” column shows the percentage difference between the lowest placed winner (the second or third position depending on the constituency) and the top ranked loser (the third or fourth position). So, in the first listed constituency the difference between position 2 (winner) and position 3 (loser) represented 49.2% of the votes cast. The “1st loser” column lists the party that held the top-ranked unsuccessful position.

According to Chris Baker “it is striking that the by-election list has an unusually large number of ‘marginal’ seats. At the 2007 poll, the winning gap was below 5% in only 49 seats (about 1-in-8), but 11 of these 28 seats fall in that range (more than 1-in-3). In 5 of these 11, the first loser was a Democrat, and in 4 it was PPP.”

Remember that the “margin” figure is a simple way of analysing how close the results are across constituencies. It isn’t the same as a “swing” figure – if a party has a margin of 14% it may only take about 7% of voters to change their votes to produce a different result.

With the lines between “government” and “opposition” becoming increasingly blurred, the stage is set for some very interesting local contests.