FORMER TRANSPORT MINISTER Chadchart Sittipunt and former Move Forward MP Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn have so far appeared as top favourites with relatively good chances of grabbing a victory among all candidates vying in Bangkok’s gubernatorial election scheduled for the upcoming Sunday.
The other contestants who will merely come out as also-rans will likely include former Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang, an “independent” contender, who is vying to retain the post after a six-year rule as an unelected governor, former King Mongkut Institute of Technology Ladkrabang rector Suchatvee Suwansawat, who is contesting under the banners of Democrat Party, and former Thai Rak Thai MP Sita Tivari, who is contesting under the tickets of Thai Sarng Thai Party.
Chances for Chadchart’s victory as the first elected Bangkok governor in nine years have apparently outscored those of the other contestants, political observers say. Wiroj’s hype which has been apparently rising by the day is not so much due to the influence and popularity of his former party as to his self-determined, challenging characteristics.
Given Bangkok’s chronic traffic jams, the Move Forward contender has been drawing attention from among Bangkok constituents in general and young voters in particular when he publicly delivers his initiative for a future Bangkok governor and the Royal Household Bureau to jointly make arrangements to avert or alleviate traffic congestion which may be otherwise caused by royal motorcades, among other factors.
Wiroj’s unprecedented proposal to solve the city’s traffic woes has been considered daring, unprecedented and highly controversial in the eyes of the conservative Bangkokians as well as the progressive ones as far as it involves royal family members.
Though Chadchart has been trying to distance himself from Pheu Thai Party from which he resigned after he had been named among a trio of partisan candidates for head of government following the 2019 general election, he has been and will be practically provided support from the rank and file of the largest opposition party, according to the political observers.
Both Chadchart and Wiroj who have been wooing support from among the new generations, especially those who may have already voted for Pheu Thai and Move Forward candidates in the previous election for MPs of Bangkok, will almost certainly be given votes from the Bangkokians who may be ultimately opposed to the Prayut regime.
Chadchart is expected to win substantial votes from constituents in all parts of Bangkok including those in remote districts on the Phra Nakhon side of the capital whereas Wiroj is tipped to win most votes from the Thonburi side and Aswin is speculated to secure most votes from constituents throughout the inner part of the capital, including the so-called Rattanakosin Island area.
Importantly, an estimated 600,000 first-time voters of Bangkok could probably become a decisive factor in Sunday’s gubernatorial election, according to Chulalongkorn University political scientist Siripan Nogsuan Sawasdee.
Those first-time voters, all being Bangkok’s Gen Y and Gen Z youngsters, would undoubtedly make their decision in an opposite direction to that made by the Baby Boomer generation when it comes to the election for Bangkok governor. Of a total of about 4.5 million eligible voters of Bangkok, most of the 600,000 first-time voters will likely pick the Move Forward contender.
The young-generation voters, many, if not most, of whom are known to be progressively challenging and anti-military would likely pick those who may have honestly expressed their anti-government attitudes one way or another.
Chadchart who had been earlier speculated to run for Bangkok governor under the tickets of Pheu Thai Party and finally opted out as a non-partisan candidate apparently remains popular and draws solid support from pro-Pheu Thai constituents and those who remain staunchly loyal to the party’s de facto leader/former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Chadchart was named transport minister in the time of former premier Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin.
In the meantime, the old-generation voters who are constantly viewed as politically conservative and even pro-military to some extent will likely vote for the non-partisan Aswin or the Democrat candidate, Suchatvee.
Given the fact that a dozen Palang Pracharath MPs of Bangkok were primarily elected by constituents who used to be a Democrat base of popular support in the capital, the gubernatorial race will very likely see them divided between the non-partisan Aswin and the Democrat candidate.
Nevertheless, those who may have voted for Palang Pracharath candidates for MPs of Bangkok are largely inclined to pick the former Bangkok governor who has opted to run as an “independent” contestant after the largest coalition party had tried in vain to put him under its tickets.
Palang Pracharath boss/Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan had talked former police chief Chakthip Chaijinda into giving up on his plan to contest the gubernatorial race only to prompt the former city governor to decide to run as a non-partisan candidate.
As if to help with Aswin’s campaign, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had made tacit remarks in support of the former governor only to ironically send his popularity ebbing down in the eye of the anti-Prayut constituents.
At best, Aswin is having nothing more interesting in his non-partisan campaign than his own experience as an unelected Bangkok governor to desperately call on the constituents to give him a four-year tenure to resume doing what he has done over the last six years. In 2016, the coup-staging military under leadership of the army chief-turned-premier Prayut handpicked Aswin as Bangkok governor.
Suchatvee will certainly not fare so well as anticipated in the race, given the fact that some 400,000 registered Democrat members and other conservative voters throughout Bangkok could not even make an MP out of all the coalition partner’s contestants in the previous election for MPs representing the capital.
A voter turnout among the Bangkokians on the upcoming Sunday is expected to be higher than that in the 2013 gubernatorial election which accounted for 63% and probably higher than that in the previous election for Bangkok MPs, which accounted for 73%.
Home Page: Some campaign posters line a Bangkok pavement. Photo: Matichon
First insert: Former Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt campaigning in Bangkok. Photo: INN News
Second insert: Former Move Forward MP Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn wooing Bangkok’s voters. Photo: Sanook.com
Third insert: Former Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang talking to the press. Photo: Matichon
Fourth insert: Former King Mongkut Institute of Technology Ladkrabang rector Suchatvee Suwansawat on the campaign trail. Photo: Matichon
Home Page: Some Bangkok governor election campaign posters . Photo: Thansettakij