11 July 2024

The Bangkok gubernatorial and council elections on Sunday are a reflection of the political conflict in Thailand, between self-proclaimed pro-democracy liberals, who include the Pheu Thai and Move Forward parties, and the conservatives, who include the Democrat and Palang Pracharath parties and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and its allies, according to Dr. Olarn Thinbangtieo, a political science lecturer at Burapha University.

From his analysis of various opinion polls, conducted by different pollsters before the election, and information from other sources, he predicts that the election results will not differ greatly from the opinion poll results and that the slogan “If you do not vote for us, he will definitely come back”, recently launched by the conservatives, will not work any magic this time, because there are so many political splinter groups within the two major political camps.

Former transport minister Chadchart Sittipunt has been leading in opinion polls. Though running as an independent, his rivals have linked him to the Pheu Thai party because he used to be a member.

Dr. Olarn said that the election tomorrow (Sunday) will reveal how much popular support the two camps still have among voters in Bangkok, which is crucial for the next general election.

The opposition Pheu Thai party is not fielding a candidate in the gubernatorial election, but they have fielded many candidates to contest the 50 council seats, representing the 50 districts of Bangkok. The ruling Palang Pracharath party has skipped the election altogether, but its coalition partner, the Democrat party, is fielding Suchatvee Suwansawat.

Dr. Olarn said that, since the Pheu Thai party has been dragged into the political schism over the past several years, it has to self-assess, vis-à-vis the sentiments of people in the capital, to determine whether the party is marketable to them, or whether Bangkok’s constituents, many of them conservatives, have changed their attitude towards the party.

Commenting on the role of Pheu Thai’s advisory chair on innovations and public participation, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, in the campaign for the party’s candidates in the council elections, the lecturer said the move is intended to test public response to the party.