Songs for votes: A closer look at political parties’ campaign melodies
Long before the House of Representatives was dissolved and the election date announced, many political parties released songs to woo voters before they cast their ballots on May 14.
With catchy lyrics and captivating tunes, the songs aim to hook listeners and persuade them to vote for these parties. The lyrics mostly promise change and a better future.
‘New life for everyone’
The Democrat Party, Thailand’s oldest, made headlines when it released a new ditty called “Chao Wan Mai” (The Next Morning) and an accompanying music video on February 25.
The 3.48-minute video features as many as 30 high-profile Democrats, including current party leader Jurin Laksanawisit and his predecessors Chuan Leekpai and Banyat Bantadtan. However, much to the disappointment of his fans, former PM and ex-party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva was absent from the “cast”.
Highlights of the video include the party’s chief adviser Chuan, 84, who served as speaker of the House before its dissolution on March 20, hitting a victory drum, while leader Jurin, who is deputy PM and commerce minister, rides a white horse.
The song was composed and sung by Democrat deputy spokesman Metee Arun, who was the lead singer of the band Labanoon in the early 2000s.
In the song, a “new-era” Democrat Party promises a “new life for everyone” by joining them to “create money, build people and unite the country”, which is the coalition partner’s campaign slogan.
“New dawn, new life for everyone. Help build money and prosperity quickly and effectively. Help build good people quickly and effectively. Help build national unity quickly and effectively,” the lyrics say.
Targeting a landslide
The Pheu Thai Party, which aims to win by a landslide and form the next government, launched a music video last September promising to “pull Thais out of poverty”.
“Pheu Thai is the answer. However hard the crisis is, even if it’s too hard for others, Pheu Thai can do it,” say the lyrics of the 4.22-minute-long “Pheu Thai Is the Answer” song.
The music video depicts people from different professions grabbing keys floating in the air to unlock doors that lead them to Pheu Thai’s different campaign platforms. These include decentralization of government power, promoting Thailand’s soft power, solving economic problems, and preparations for the Metaverse.
The core opposition party also released a separate melody through its social-media channels on March 17. This song is titled “Think Big, Act Smart, For All Thais” – the party’s campaign slogan.
This music video is 4.39 minutes long and features key party figures, with a special focus on Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the youngest daughter of Pheu Thai’s patriarch, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra. Paetongtarn is expected to be one of Pheu Thai’s prime ministerial candidates at the election.
This song promises to reduce inequality, eradicate poverty, help the economy grow 5% annually, ensure “good health for all”, stamp out corruption, suppress narcotics, etc.
“Pheu Thai must win by a landslide. To start thinking big for everyone. Look at the goal we dream of. Unite Thai hearts everywhere. Join us as before. Think big, act smart, for all Thais,” say the lyrics.
Promise of change and progress
Move Forward, another key opposition party, has been releasing campaign songs and accompanying music videos since 2020.
Three years ago, it issued the “Kao Klai Kao Na” (Progressive Move Forward) marching tune, telling its supporters that “we are the people and the journey. Move Forward for progressive Thailand. We draw this path ourselves. Path of change.”
In April last year, the party released another campaign song called “Choose Move Forward”, promising to be “the future of everyone as the power belongs to the people”. This song also promises to create “better politics, welfare for all, equal rights and freedom for everyone”.
Then, in September last year, the party labelled “extreme leftist” by conservatives, launched another campaign song called “Must Move Forward”, telling voters to choose Move Forward for change, progress, modernization and a better future.
The coalition’s Bhumjaithai Party released a campaign jingle last April called “Phut Laew Tham” (We Keep Our Word), which is also its slogan.
The music video features government ministers from the party including Anutin Charnvirakul, the Bhumjaithai leader and public health minister. The lyrics list what the party has done to make its election promises come true. These include providing more benefits to patients under the universal healthcare program, free kidney dialysis, turning cannabis into a cash crop, a high-speed train project, and building double train tracks.
“Words are the master of the speaker. When words are spoken, they must be kept. Acts and sincerity are proof. That we keep our words, we have done well,” say the lyrics.
Agent of reconciliation?
The ruling Palang Pracharath Party launched a tune carrying its own name in January. The accompanying music video portrays party leader General Prawit Wongsuwan as a kind, popular politician who is warmly welcomed by people of all ages wherever he goes.
The 4.15-minute-long song calls on Thai society to “stop mistrust and start reconciliation” – the party’s key policy theme for the upcoming election.
“Palang Pracharath will end the conflict, unite people of different [political] beliefs for a bright future,” the lyrics promise.
Contrary to the song’s claims, recent opinion surveys show that Deputy PM Prawit is not among the popular would-be PM candidates.
The ruling party released another song in late February. This one is called “Uncle Pom 700”, referring to Prawit by his nickname, and promises to raise monthly allowances for registered poor people to 700 baht.
The 3.58-minute-long song says: “If you’re in trouble, Uncle Pom can help. He’s weary, but never too tired to help. Uncle Pom is kind and takes care of everyone with his heart. That’s Uncle Pom 700.”
The ruling party is rallying behind Prawit, who is expected to be its PM candidate after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha defected to Ruam Thai Sang Chart (United Thai Nation) Party to contest in the next national vote. Prayut was Palang Pracharath’s sole PM candidate in the March 2019 election.
‘Did that, doing, and will do more’
The United Thai Nation Party (UTNP), which was founded exactly a year ago, released a series of video clips this month boasting about what the government has done for the people and the country.
The clips, in fact, include policies and measures that were implemented when General Prayut was heading the junta formed after the May 2014 coup that he led.
Titled “Ice Cream”, the first clip released on May 13 says 100% of financial aid from Prayut’s administration reaches the recipients, unlike in the past when the “ice cream” was shared by politicians, bureaucrats and local administrators.
At least three more clips were released to underline the many achievements of Prayut-led governments, highlighting the party’s slogan “Did That, Doing, and Will Do More”.
The clip “Done a Lot”, released on March 19, starts with the question “What has Uncle Too [Prayut] done in his eight years in power?” It then provides a long list of his claimed achievements, including leading Thailand out of the COVID-19 crisis, financial aid for those affected, new mass transit routes, high-speed train projects, double train tracks and new provincial train routes, as well as rebuilding diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia after three decades.
Another clip titled “Look Up” features two young women complaining “he has done nothing over the past eight years” in a phone chat, before agreeing to meet in Bangkok’s Chinatown. One of the women heads to Chinatown from Nonthaburi on the MRT Purple Line, while the other comes from Samut Prakan on the BTS Green Line.
“You may not have noticed, but we never stopped expanding our mass transit network over the past eight years. From two lines to eight and 12,” the clip says before ending with the party’s slogan.
By Thai PBS World’s Political Desk